Review Blog

Jul 03 2014

Dark Emu: Black Seeds: agriculture or accident? by Bruce Pascoe

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Magabala Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922142436.
(Age: Secondary - Adult) Experienced author, national award winner and Bunurong man, Bruce Pascoe, provides us with a completely new insight into Australian history in this easy-to-read non-fiction book.
Pascoe refutes the long-held belief that the Aboriginal people were simple hunter-gatherers and challenges that notion as a convenient lie by colonisers intent on ignoring the original Indigenous owners of this land. With evidence from original records and early diaries Pascoe presents new evidence about food production, construction of dwellings and clothing. Contrary to the European colonists claim that the Aboriginal people did not farm this land, Pascoe describes the sowing, growing of crops, irrigation methods, food preservation and building undertaken by the First Australians, outlining a society that was far from being subsistence hunter-gatherers.
I found this book extremely interesting reading with much new information about the historical background of the Aboriginal people. Fascinating newly recognised facts about Aboriginal architecture and settlements (often up to 1000 people), diverting of watercourses and irrigation of crops, the use of fire as a tool for the last 120 000 years are just some of the enlightening revelations here. Some of this information is completely surprising e.g. the cultural practices around graveyards.
Pascoe urges our authorities to begin to acknowledge the truth about the Aboriginal society and culture at the time of the European invasion and his history is supported by respected historians and scholars. I think this book, which is very accessible, interesting and often revealing, would be an excellent authoritative resource for school libraries, particularly secondary ones. Suitable for Sorry Day and for Reconciliation Week, this book is a worthy addition to your curriculum and library collection.
Sue Warren

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