‘Grounded in Truth’: Young Dark Emu

It was Reconciliation Week last week in Australia and this year’s theme was ‘grounded in truth’. It highlighted Aboriginal and Torres Train Islander peoples’ call for a process of truth-telling about Australia’s colonial history as a way of healing historical wounds. Because let’s face it, someone has to – there’s a leadership void where the political classes are concerned (apart from in Victoria, of course).

While this country remains in deep denial about the trauma white settlers visited on this continent (just change Australia Day goddammit!!), I figure one small, small way that I can contribute to reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous Australians is to educate myself better about the wrongs of the past and to understand their impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I shake my head whenever I reflect that I never learned anything about this trauma during my decades of formal Australian education.

Young Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe is the perfect entry point for this. By reexamining journals and drawings from early Australian settlers and explorers, Bruce Pascoe paints a radically different picture of Aboriginal people and their culture.