This post is inspired by the Indigenous Australian books listed at the end of this post. With thanks to their authors and illustrators.
It’s a moment, brief, fleeting, like time’s standing still, like ab-so-lutely nothing in the world matters. The field of sugar cane feathers sway gently in the breeze, our car radio soundtrack in perfect synchrony. It’s like a perfect, untouchable, dream.
These are the moments across a year and more. Moments that take me to a myriad of Indigenous countries that we too often reduce to one nation – one country – Australia. Where we’re in active communion with living, breathing landscapes now and in times long passed.
Moments where the past, that many long to keep that way (erased – unspoken – buried), is brought vividly, achingly, nauseously into the present. Where humanity remains undimmed, undeterred, undiminished – refusing to relent, to bow down, to cower to those that cling to notions of racial supremacy. Where triumph is measured – not in grand celebratorial events – but in smaller, humbler, knowing moments. Where the spirit – of the land – of the people – of their communities – of the creatures – soar – speaking in and through us – if we dare to open ourselves.
Moments that bring tears, rage, joy (like nothing else), and utter aching.
Moments enabled through carefully crafted words: words that encourage us to stick around, to take a good look and to LISTEN, LEARN and TAKE ACTION. Words that nourish and replenish us, words that can change how we’re part of this world if we dare.
We’re travelling down a dusty, bumpy, corrugated road – a road so corrugated that literally every part of us is shaking. Four wheel drives approach. We hope against hope that we’re not covered in dust, let alone smashed by stones or rocks speeding through the air at us.
It’s soon forgotten though as we reach there. A short walk takes us up through a valley. Birds flit about, water falls and runs alongside us, the low hum of the trees ever present. Behind us the grandeur grows – like a camera slowly panning out to a wider and wider shot – the promise of more to come. Dare we sneak a look or wait? Just wait till we finally turn to catch its presence.
When we do, it’s heart in throat moment, a short, sharp gasp, a how can we possibly take all this in – as we gaze across the valley of trees to the horizon. In this moment, you can almost feel it doing you good – restoring your spirit.
More and more lately these lived moments transport me back to the Indigenous Australian focused stories that I’ve dipped in and out of over the past year or so. Stories that have almost become a part of me. Stories that have taught me about communicating with, acknowledging, appreciating, and listening to the land, the nature, the creatures around me.
It’s almost as though these crafted words – across so many pages – are being made manifest through these countries I’m journeying in. They’re becoming part of me: changing me, changing how I see, experience, relate and communicate with the worlds around me.
These moments across a year and more, at home and in my classroom, are a result of my reading the following Indigenous Australian focused books and picture books:
- Our Home, Our Heartbeat – Adam Briggs, Kate Moon and Rachael Sarra
- The Uluru Statement from the Heart – Tom Mayor and Blak Douglas
- Flock: First Nations Stories Then and Now – Ellen Van Neevan (Editor)
- The Yield – Tara June Winch
- Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia – Anita Heiss (Editor)
- Terra Nullius – Claire G Coleman
- The Old Lie – Claire G Coleman
- Taboo – Kim Scott
- Butterfly Song – Terri Janke
- The Drover’s Wife – Leah Purcell
- The White Girl – Tony Birch
- Ghost River – Tony Birch
- Catching Teller Crow – Ambelin Kwaymullina
- Too Much Lip – Melissa Lucashenko
- Mullumbimby – Melissa Lucashenko
- Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray – Anita Heiss
- Nona and Me – Clare Atkins
- They Took The Children Away – Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter
Further Reading and Listening
- Moments in Time 1 by Greg Curran