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Indigenous Australia: Dark Emu Discussion

Dark Emu

Dark Emu is a book which challenges  the preconception that Indigenous Australia was primitive and not civilised because Indigenous peoples did not cultivate the land or keep domestic animals for food. This book and its thesis has been challenged by various people. The discussion is summarised below.

The discussions and arguments


The discussion around Dark Emu has led to a comprehensive Wikipedia page with useful footnotes and references.

What is Dark Emu?

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe is a non-fiction work that explores the statement that Indigenous Australians were hunter-gathers. It explores techniques in agriculture, aquaculture, housing and relationship with the land and animals. Pascoe draws upon journal entries from first settlers and archeological sites of certain areas, though stresses that more work and research is to be done to understand a broader view.

Dark Emu debunks the colonial hunter-gatherer narrative of Aboriginal people, instead revealing complex and ancient agricultural technologies used to farm and manage the land.

There has been a great deal of controversy around his book from right wing journals, traditional historians & anthropologists as well as some aboriginal groups which believe that although facts might be independently correct, that Bruce has cherry picked his information to create a new view which does not reflect the greater evidence of history (oral, written and archaelogical) and that not enough of his sources are from indigenous historian.

All of the footnotes in the book are accurate and can be viewed in the State Libraries.

Image : Bruce Pascoe from Magabala Books

Dark Emu