Dark Emu, first published in 2014, examines journal entries written by early colonial settlers in Australia to explore different engineering, agriculture and building practices that were employed by the Indigenous Australian population.
The book highlights the existence of community structures and innovation which challenge traditional notions of the hunter-gather lifestyle that most Australians would associate with First Nation Peoples.
Dark Emu has won a plethora of awards including two NSW Premier's Literary Awards (Book of the Year and the Indigenous Writers' Prize) and has inspired various projects in art and agriculture. The Author, Bruce Pascoe, was a finalist in the Australian Human Rights Commission for the human rights medal last year for his ongoing research into the topics addressed within the book.
Our Director Josie Gardiner recently read the award-winning novel Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe and has highly recommended this as a good read for those interested in learning more about Aboriginal history in Australia.
Josie Gardiner's Black Emu book review:
"Dark Emu is a ground breaking novel which deconstructs the myth employed throughout the last 200 years of ‘terra nullius’.
Before reading the book, I hadn't associated Aboriginal culture with the construction of large villages and stone houses, complex food systems (even eating roast duck and cake!) and agricultural systems spanning the country. Such ideas would seem perhaps farfetched, as Bruce Pascoe well knows when he was laughed at by other scholars for first suggesting them.
The novel is not only theoretical in nature, it also provides practical ideas for helping the current challenges our nation is facing with drought and bushfires. For example, it promotes the idea that Australians should replace wheat with native grasses and instead of cattle we should eat
kangaroo. Pascoe has also commenced commercialising indigenous food growing processes in Victoria, in particular yams and native grains, to revitalise the land using traditional agricultural practices.
This novel should be compulsory reading for any Australian as it will undoubtedly challenge pre-colonial understandings of Australia, lead to an enriched understanding of who we are as a country and provide innovative ideas for moving forward as a nation."
Dark Emu is available at most Australian bookstores and is a great way to develop further understanding into our Indigenous population and their rich cultural history. To purchase your own copy, visit your local bookstore or use the link here.
For more on this topic, we recommend the following TED talk
‘A real history of Aboriginal Australians, the first agriculturalists’ by Bruce Cascoe.