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5 must-read books about Aboriginal culture

For International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples themed “Indigenous Languages” and Book Lovers Day, we bring you top 5 books about Australian Indigenous culture that you’ll love!

Did you know that there are 370 million indigenous people in the world spread across 90 countries, and they speak over 7000 different languages? That may seem like a huge number, but the sad fact is most of these languages are now on the brink of extinction and at the risk of being forgotten by future generations.

Language plays a crucial role in not just everyday communication, but in defining the identity of communities and retaining their stories through time. Today is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and the theme for 2019 is “Indigenous Languages”.

Also, today is Book Lovers day, so what better way to share the importance of preserving languages than through stories? So, we’ve compiled a list of books for you with a variety of stories that will not only offer an insight to the different facets of Aboriginal culture, history and the peoples’ journey, but will stay with you and make you want to know more. Here are the top five books for adults with brief descriptions from Google Books:

  • Aboriginal Studies (By Nelson)

This book has been put together by experts from Aboriginal Education Council of NSW, the NSW Department of Education and Communities, and the NSW Office of the Board of Studies. Not only does it provide a deep and thorough understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, it also offers varied perspectives and fresh insights by scholars in the field.

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  • The Little Red Yellow Black Book (By Bruce Pascoe)

This book covers Australia’s rich Indigenous culture and 60,000-year-old history and includes a variety of resources such as rare, old photographs and information such as how to travel respectfully, following the cultural protocols and ethics of Indigenous people. It has a unique non-chronological flow of information and can be treated as a guide as well as a reference to aboriginal peoples’ identity and cultural journey.

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  • Dark Emu (By Bruce Pascoe)

This book argues that the prevalent hunter-gatherer tag may not be apt for precolonial Aboriginal Australians.

Based on the records and journals of various Australian explorers, the writer discusses how the Aboriginal people had been resorting to agriculture, complete with sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing food, which questions the hunter-gather theory.

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  • Growing up Aboriginal in Australia (By Anita Heiss)

This collection of stories about Aboriginal people growing up in Australia covers accounts from well-known authors and new-age writers who share their real-life experiences.

Their stories depict the way of family and community life, while challenging stereotypes, demanding respect and showcasing empathy.

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  • A man called Yarra (By Stan Yarramunua)

This is an autobiography by Stan Yarramunua who has made it as an artist, musician, actor, philanthropist, businessman, and writer. The book spans his journey from having a rough childhood steeped in poverty and battling addiction to finally finding his calling as an artist through his traditional paintings. With this inspirational recount of his experiences, he helps young Aboriginal children as well as adults to appreciate their roots and overcome their problems as well.

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  • ELDERS (By Peter McConchie)

While telling stories of Aboriginal cultures, perspectives, experience and accumulated wisdom matters a great deal. This book is authored by elders of the tribe from across the country in a simple and moving manner, and offers an insight into the traditional and contemporary ways of living of Indigenous people.

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Australian Indigenous culture utilises dreamtime stories as a way of passing on knowledge to children as well. These stories not only help children stay engaged, they also teach them how to deal with a variety of life situations through simple lessons. Here are some great books with dreamtime stories to get your children to learn more about indigenous culture.

  • Big Rain Coming (By Katrina Germain)
  • Welcome to Country (By Aunty Joy Murphy)
  • The Lost Girl (By Ambelin Kwaymullina)
  • Dingos Tree (By Gladys Milroy)
  • Playground (By Nadia Wheatly)
  • Mad Magpie, Kookoo Kookaburra, Silly Birds Collection (By Gregg Dreise)

As we appreciate this beautiful country that has over time, become home to a diverse group of people from across the world, but it is important to work towards preserving and promoting the varied cultural identity and works of Australian Indigenous people.

At MTC, we work towards empowering people from all communities and upholding Aboriginal culture is high on our list of priorities. We encourage our staff, students and customers to promote Indigenous people’s empowerment. Learn more our Opportunity Hub program here.