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Main : Indigenous, land, law, non-fiction

ISBN: 9781742199184
0.920 kgs
234 x 152 mm
730 pp
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Ngarrindjeri Wurruwarrin: A World That Is, Was, And Will Be
Diane Bell
eBook version will be emailed

In Ngarrindjeri Wurruwarrin, Diane Bell invites her readers into the complex and contested world of the cultural beliefs and practices of the Ngarrindjeri of South Australia; teases out the meanings and misreadings of the written sources; traces changes and continuities in oral accounts; challenges assumptions about what Ngarrindjeri women know, how they know it, and how outsiders may know what is to be known. Wurruwarrin: knowing and believing. 

In 1995, a South Australian Royal Commission found Ngarrindjeri women to have “fabricated” their beliefs to stop the building of a bridge from Goolwa to Hindmarsh Island. By 2001, in federal court, the women were vindicated as truth-tellers. In 2009, the site was registered, but scars remain of that shameful moment.

In the Preface to the New Edition, Diane Bell looks to the world that “will be”, where talented, committed Ngarrindjeri leaders are building the infrastructure for future generations of the Ngarrindjeri nation and challenging the very foundation of the State of South Australia.

The Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008 and its evocation of an inclusive “us” has propelled the Ngarrindjeri on the path to “practical reconciliation”. But progress has been uneven. Petty politics, procrastinations and prevarications stand in the way of its realisation.

Diane Bell writes as an insider who is clear about the bases of her engagement with her Ngarrindjeri friends and colleagues. The story will continue to unfold and Diane Bell will be there. There is unfinished business. 
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Winner, NSW Premier’s Gleebook Award for Cultural and Literary Criticism Finalist, The Age Book of the Year Finalist, Queensland Premier’s History Award Finalist, Gold Medal of the Australian Literary Society Finalist, Kiriyama Award
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The legacy of lying and the politics of apology

Radio National Breakfast 

Interview on ABC 891

Links to Diane Bell's interview on the ABC RN and her public lecture at Swinburne University

It leaves the reader wondering whether the outcome would have been different had the contents of this book been known at the time of the events it describes.


John Toohey, Canberra Times

Bell’s greatest achievement in Ngarrindjeri Wurruwarrin lies in her truthful rendering of the complexities and internal contradictions of the current Ngarrindjeri position, without underplaying the hard questions ... magisterial work.

Christine Nicholls, Times Higher Education

Table of Contents

Some Ngarrindjeri Terms ix

Maps xii

Preface to New Edition xiii

Prologue 1


1. Weaving the World of Ngarrindjeri 43

Weaving Women 43

Sustaining Stories 48

The Respect System 61

Making Baskets: Making Family 65

Feather Flowers: The Land of Pelicans 73

Weaving the Past 78

Weaving New Worlds 84

2. Shared Designs: Different Strands 91

Ngurunderi: Landscape and Culture; United and Divided 91

Life on the Mission: From Taplin’s Time On 104

Religion: On and Off the Mission 109

Life on Farms and in Fringe Camps:

Learning by Word of Mouth 116

Life in the Home: Being Taken Away 120

Ngarrindjeri of High Literary Degree 125

Wururi: Many Dialects, One Body 136

The Circle of Language 140

3. Singing: “Pakari Nganawi Ruwi” 145

Pinkie Mack: Singing of Welcome and War 145

Many Meanings: Few Recordings 155

Songs of the Southeast 166

Songs and Ceremonies of Yore 171

Gospel, Glee Clubs and Guitars 182

Pakari Songs: Twentieth-Century Dreaming 188

4. Family, Friends and Other Relations 199

Ngatji: “Friend, countryman, protector” 199

Ngatji: Accommodating Change 208

Ngatji Stories: Krowali, Krayi and Others 212

Miwi : Feeling and Knowing 218

Ngia-ngiampe : Birth Relations 225

The Power of Naming 228

Genealogies: Families First 231

Whose Genealogy? 237

Family Connections: Something Old, Something New 244

5. A Land Alive: Embodying and Knowing the Country 249

A Living, Changing Land 249

Ruwi and Ruwar: Land and Body 262

A Gendered, Embodied Land 269

A Restricted Body: Narambi—Dangerous and Forbidden 278

Burials: Ensuring a Safe Place, Coming Home 286

Changing Practice: Persistent Values 303

6. Signs and Sorcery: Finding Meaning in a Changing World 309

Reading the Signs 309

The Mingka Bird 312

The Return of the Whales 318

Signs from the Past and Present 322

Powerful Presences 326

Putari Practice 337

The Mulyewongk: A Story for All Ages 344

Fear of Foreigners, Small People and the Dark 353


7. Respecting the Rules: Oral and Written Cultures 361

Whose Knowledge? Whose Rules? 361

A Two-Way Dialogue 366

Side-bar Dialogues 371

Respecting the Rules 376

With Respect to Gender 385

Taking Time and Talking in Riddles 392

The Trouble with Books 395

Staying Silent: Speaking Out 398

A Community of Belief and a Culture of Dissent 405

8. Sorting the Sources: Writing about the Lower Murray 419

Who has Fabricated the Ngarrindjeri? 419

First Sightings: Writing the Ngarrindjeri into Existence 425

A Dying Race: Recording Nineteenth-Century Ngarrindjeri 431

Museums and Memory Culture: Tindale, Berndt et al. 439

Recording the Word: From Passive to Active Voice 448

On Silences, Assumptions and Censorship 452

On Women, Feminists and Ethnography 459

Of Courts, Consultants and Armchairs 471

Finding Meaning in a Changing World: A Constant 474

9. Women’s Beliefs, Bodies and Practices 483

Gendered Work: Gendered Analyses 483

Sacred Moments: Sacred Relationships 490

Born of Woman 500

Rites of Passage: Coming of Age for Ngarrindjeri Girls 507

Women’s Bodies: The Subject of Inquiry 520

“Women’s Business”: What is It? 528

What Do we “Know” About Women and their Business? 534

Closing the Circle 542

10. Sacred Orders: A Weave of the Clans, Stories and Sanctions 545

Kumarangk: “Not Just Any Island” 545

Hindmarsh Island: A Complex of Clans 549

Goolwa: A Complex of Activities 554

Mulyewongk: Cautionary Tales and Deeper Meanings 558

The Meeting of the Waters: Home for Ngatji 562

Ngurunderi and Jekejeri at Goolwa 570

The Pleiades: Stories of Sisters, the Seasons and Survival 573

Mantjingga: A Ngarrindjeri Dreaming 584

Sacred Orders: Everything in its Place 587

Weaving it Together: One Whole World 591

Epilogue: Whither? 595

Endnotes 605

Chronology 637

Bibliography 647

Permissions 673

Index 675

Acknowledgements 691

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