University Of Tasmania

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Authentic and essential: a review of Anita M Heiss’ Dhuuluu-Yala (To Talk Straight): publishing Indigenous literature

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 01:20 authored by Greg LehmanGreg Lehman
Increasingly, Australia is becoming familiar with Indigenous culture. The mainstream is beginning to collectively recognise the characters that have populated books, television and film over the past fifty years as something more than remote ghosts of the past. Aboriginal people are transforming conceptions of Indigenous identity in Australia by our own effort; breaking away from stereotypes and misunderstandings that have maintained popular perceptions of Aborigines for so long as an amorphous, ill-defined Other.

Much of this transformation from the 1960s to the 90s was achieved through political voice. In Tasmania it was only through a concerted political campaign that we were able to gain acceptance of the continuing existence of Indigenous identity. More recently, in the visual and performing arts and literature, Aboriginal people have increasingly been presented as a culturally diverse assemblage of nations; comprising individuals and families with stories to tell that are rich with struggle, celebration and humanity. Evidenced by the massive bridge walks of that marked the culmination of the Reconciliation Movement, there is arguably a critical mass of cross-cultural understanding in Australia now that is enabling Indigenous narratives to freely emerge – beyond the constraints of what White Australia was once prepared to admit. But the story of how these narratives are able to find voice is less appreciated.


Publication title

Australian Humanities Review








Aboriginal Leadership


Australian National University * School of Humanities

Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Understanding Australia’s past