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History has portrayed Australia's First Peoples, the Aboriginals, as hunter-gatherers who lived on an empty, uncultivated land. History is wrong.
In this seminal book, Bruce Pascoe uncovers evidence that long before the arrival of white men, Aboriginal people across the continent were building dams and wells; planting, irrigating, and harvesting seeds, and then preserving the surplus and storing it in houses, sheds, or secure vessels; and creating elaborate cemeteries and manipulating the landscape. All of these behaviours were inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag, which turns out to have been a convenient lie that worked to justify dispossession.
Using compelling evidence from the records and diaries of early Australian explorers and colonists, he reveals that Aboriginal systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia's past is required – for the benefit of us all.
Dark Emu, a bestseller in Australia when published in 2014, won both the Book of the Year Award and the Indigenous Writer's Prize in the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards.
Bruce Pascoe is a Bunurong man born in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond. He is a member of the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative of southern Victoria and has been the director of the Australian Studies Project for the Commonwealth Schools Commission. Bruce has had a varied career as a teacher, farmer, fisherman, barman, fencing contractor, lecturer, Aboriginal language researcher, archaeological site worker and editor. Books include the short story collections Night Animals and Nightjar; the novels Fox, Ruby Eyed Coucal, Ribcage, Shark, Earth, and Ocean; historical works Cape Otway: Coast of Secrets and Convincing Ground; the childrens book Foxies in a Firehose and the young adult fiction Fog a Dox, which won the Prime Ministers Literary Award for YA Fiction, 2013.
– Darina Allen, Irish Examiner