“Why Warriors lie down and die” was written by Richard Trudgen in 2000. It was written at the request of Yolŋu elders to promote understanding between Balanda and Aboriginal people, and as an attempt to present the many problems facing Aboriginal communities and people in Arnhem Land from the perspective of the Yolŋu people .

As Trudgen says in his introduction:

” It is my conviction that the crisis can be understood and programs can be developed to deal with it.  But finding its real cause will require us to look at the subject from the other side of the cross-cultural/cross-language divide – the side where the Yolŋu live.”

Trudgen’s involvement with the Yolŋu people began in the early 1970’s when he went to Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island as a fitter and turner in the mission workshop.  Since then his involvement has been in many guises. Over time he developed strong ties with the Yolŋu people – learning their language and their culture.  He continues to work with and for the people of Arnhem Land.

His book is not at all academic; but by recounting his own experiences, describing confusion and misunderstandings he’s encountered and relationships he’s developed, by recording stories entrusted to him and sharing insights he’s gained, this book speaks eloquently, passionately and with a sense of urgency for the Yolŋu of Arnhem Land.

The Why Warriors website, amongst other things, offers on-line cross-cultural training for people already – or interested in – working in Aboriginal communities.

Josie Smyth

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