When the world was soft: Yindjibarndi creation stories by Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation

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This impressive book by Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation tells the Creation stories of the Yindjibarndi people. In the Wanthiwa (Greetings) Lorraine Coppin CEO Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation talks about storytelling and the way it influenced and guided past generations and still does today. These are stories from the Pilbara, ready to be shared with the Yindjibarndi people and respectfully heard by others all over the world.

The striking cover, in its tones of black, white, grey and blues depicts the Wirrangga (River Red Gum) whose name in the story of Bunggaliyarra (Fallen) is Mandirrinha (Tree of the Moon), will immediately draw the reader’s eye. Inside the book are glorious photographs of important Country connected to the stories as well as stunning traditional paintings by members of the Juluwarlu Art Group. The contents page clearly sets out the stories beginning with Ngurra Nyujunggamu (Creation) ‘where the world was as soft as clay and the sky very low. The Creator, Minkala sang the songs and from which all life and Ngurra evolved’. This story is followed by a number of significant and sacred stories about animals and people ending with the Barrimirindi (Water Serpent) story.

In the final pages there is further valuable information about the Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation followed by detailed information about the paintings and the artists as well as the illustrator Alex Mankiewicz. There is a dual language glossary and index included as well as a QR code to hear the story and source educational materials.

The unique and dramatic presentation of these wonderful stories in a graphic novel-style illustrative format will appeal to and create a wider audience. These stories have so much depth and meaning and to have them visually enhanced allows greater understanding for all readers.

Themes: Dreaming, Songlines, Stories, Creation, First Nations People, Pilbara, Yindjibarndi people.

Kathryn Beilby