The Bininj Kunwok Language Project have launched the new book ‘Something About Emus: Bininj Stories From Western Arnhem Land’ in Melbourne recently.
The book, which was edited by Murray Garde, focuses on Bininj encounters and stories of emus in western Arnhem Land translated either from Bininj Kunwok to English or English to Bininj Kunwok.
The book is divided into three parts: part I is a collection of conversations by senior Bininj about emus; part II is an essay by Nick Evans, which presents three versions of what is known in western and southern Arnhem Land as ‘the greedy emu story’; and part III is a photographic essay, by Jon Altman, showing the emu preparation and cooking process.
A special aspect of this book is its bilingual nature.
Editor of ‘Something About Emus’ Murray Garde touched on how the book came together on the night of the launch.
“The instigator of the research was Bininj ecologist Dean Yibarbuk from Maningrida. Dean began the work with an AIATSIS research grant auspiced by the Centre for Indigenous Natural and cultural Resource Management (CINCRM) and when he found his commitments building and needed to turn his attention to other projects, I became involved and not long after zoologist Dr Wendy Telferm,” Murray said.
“That was in 2005 and in 2013 our friends at Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation in Kakadu National Park suggested we publish the results of our collaborative work with the many esteemed Aboriginal elders who had generously shared their knowledge about emus.”
During the launch, there was praise for the way the book presented Indigenous ecological knowledge from original sources (in this case Indigenous elders who led the land management movement in western Arnhem Land) in an easily digestible format.
Speakers at the launch expressed the desire to see the publication of similar books in the future.