Here is a review of a good old-fashioned print book, crowd-sourced and locally published this year here in the Northern Rivers of NSW : here in Bundjalung jugun (jagun), Bundjalung country.
The book is titled “Our Way Stories” and it contains autobiographical accounts from ten Bundjalung elders. The publication was supported by Arts Northern Rivers, a regional arts organisation whose activities respect and promote the language and culture of the original owners of this area.
It is not a book specifically about language. Language, however, is a significant thread running through the stories. The elders talk about their language experience in childhood, their level of exposure to language and language competence. Their life stories make clear the mechanisms of language loss, and give powerful insight into the meaning of language heritage. As elders describe their family, clan, geographic and language attachments, they make evident the reality that “Bundjalung” refers to a language cluster and not to a single language entity.
It is a beautifully produced book, with great photos including remarkable photographic portraits and precious photos from the past.It records remarkable lives with the emotional impact of eyewitness narrative.
Most relevant to this blog is the vivid personal recollections it contains of men and women whose aboriginal language remains an intrinsic aspect of their identity.
The book was launched at the 2016 Byron Bay Writers’ Festival, and its forward is written by the acclaimed author Melissa Lukashenko (Steam Pigs, Mullumbimby) whose own great grandmother was removed from her Bundjalung family. She praises how “ the melody of the old lingo drops into these stories like stars appearing in the night sky”.
“Our Way Stories”draws the reader closer to the Bundjalung languages through the voices of those who are living the contemporary history of those languages.
The book is available by emailing the link on the “Our Way Stories” page at Arts Northern Rivers, accessed via the links in this article.
Gillian Smith, LING 366