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Report No. 43

Yamani Country: A Spatial History of the Atherton Tableland, North Queensland

Research Report
Sandra Pannell, with contributions from Ngadjon-Jii Traditional Owners
ISBN 0 86443 754 4
Extract from Chapter One

Auntie Emma Johnston, now in her late eighties, is looking at an old black and white photograph taken some time around 1900. It depicts a group of Aboriginal men and women in a clearing. Some of the men are standing, holding decorated shields and spears, and adorned with white cockatoo feather headdresses and pearl-shell pendants. Others in the group are sitting, long wooden swords and grass baskets loosely held on their laps. In the background a tangle of rainforest trees, though it is apparent that some have been thinned and even removed. Although the photograph labours to give such an appearance, there is nothing pristine or pre-contact about this scene. The caption on the photograph reads 'Bellenden Ker Blacks', though Auntie Emma knows better than this. Carefully reading the designs on the shields and the ritual cicatrices on the men's bodies, and noting the other forms of material culture displayed in the photograph, Auntie Emma declares the people in the photograph to be "Ngadjon-Jii, my mob".

Background to Yamani Country

For the author, Dr Sandra Pannell, Leader of Program 7, Yamani Country has its origins in the mid 1990s, when she first met Auntie Emma's 'mob' while researching Ngadjon-Jii connections to country as part of a Native Title claim. These initial encounters formed the basis for a more detailed exploration of the environmental histories of the Malanda district, an area on the Atherton Tableland located in the heart of the Wet Tropics bioregion.

These environmental histories paint a vivid picture of the varied nature of Ngadjon-Jii engagement with the Settler population. This is not a simple tale of Indigenous resistance and European conquest, or necessarily one of widespread environmental degradation. Rather, these histories speak about the ways in which landscapes and identity are co-produced through the intersecting rituals and customary practices of Traditional Owners and non-Indigenous Australians alike. This volume attempts to recognise some of the social and environmental consequences of these varied and often hidden histories.

Download file is a PDF document that is designed to be printed using the duplex feature on your printer (i.e. double-sided). For ease of download, sections of this report have been extracted and may be downloaded separately:

Download Preliminary Pages (including Contents)
Download Chapter One The Lie of the Land
Download Chapter Two Yamani
Download Chapter Three Nature in Names
Download Chapter Four Laying Bare the Bones of the Snake
Download Chapter Five On the Farm
Download Chapter Six Buyu
Download Chapter Seven Afterword
Download References



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