Living on Stolen Land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina
'You are living on stolen land
what can you do about it?’ (p.6).
This book is a poignant, empowering call for action, which exposes the bias that we all – consciously or subconsciously – hold, as settler Australians. We are invited to consider the ways in which we might begin to be aware of - and then actively fight – these biases.
It is one thing to be aware of bias and prejudice – but it is yet another to take action, to make a difference – and this book is a call for active learning, for developing an awareness of bias in ourselves, and for acknowledging mistakes.
This is a beautifully crafted book, from each carefully chosen word to the gorgeous use of colour and design on the front cover – reminding us of the symbiotic relationship we have with our environment.
Ambelin Kwaymullina writes in a poetic verse-style format that is easily accessible for both a teen and adult audience. The writing is moving, articulate, empowering – through directly addressing the reader it effectively inspires us to challenge our ways of thinking.
I found that reading this book inspired a deeper understanding of the need to deconstruct myths about Australia’s colonial past, and illuminated the importance of centring the voices of First Nations people. I was inspired by the suggestion that one way to start to shift bias is to engage with the stories that First Nations peoples tell about themselves; through story, dance, singing.
We are also invited to consider the ways we might build respectful relationships, and connect with and celebrate all parts of Country.
This book is a timely reminder that we are, indeed, living on stolen land, and Ambelin Kwaymullina challenges us - as readers - to ask: what can we do about it?
The messages are relevant to us all, and every school and home should have a copy of this book on their shelves. I know I will be referring to this book regularly, and discussing it with my children, so that they too can understand the ways in which they can actively make a difference.
Ambelin Kwaymullina belongs to the Palyku people of the eastern Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Published by Magabala Books