Dark Emu

Thoughts and Reviews 28th November 2019

Introduction preamble Clive James passed away last Sunday 24th November, at the age of 80. A heavy drinker and smoker, he'd had leukaemia the past 9 years.

One of our most famous Aussies. Born in Sydney in 1939, moved to England in 1962, becoming a TV critic for the Observer Newspaper in 1972, then became a famous television personality, an author, and a poet. Known for his friendship to Diana Spencer.

Describing religions as "advertising agencies for a product that doesn't exist", James was an atheist and saw it as the default and obvious position.

Well, he knows now.

Heads buried over rewrite of history
If authenticity was measured by the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from ABC types, Dark Emu would be known as magisterial, rather than as an implausible Aboriginal history.
By THE MOCKER, The Australian, Thursday 28 November 2019
Indigenous author Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu continues to be lauded by ABC personalities.
In the night sky, you can see Dhinawan the emu in the glittering sprawl of the Milky Way. But clever, industrious Dhinawan isn’t made of stars; he’s subtle and elusive. Dhinawan is found in the dark space between the lights. Dhinawan embodies the quiet ingenuity of Indigenous knowledge systems: there, right before your eyes, yet requiring a different way of seeing.
Lorean Allam, The Guardian

Extolling of Dark Emu ignores the doubt about its historical accuracy

If indigenous author Bruce Pascoe is correct, most of what we were taught of how Aboriginals lived prior to the arrival of Europeans was based on a combination of ignorance, omissions and lies.

In his landmark book Dark Emu, Pascoe claims indigenous Australians were not hunter-gatherers but were sophisticated in the ways of food production, aquaculture, and land management. They were not nomads but lived in large towns in permanent dwellings. Their civilisation was, he wrote last year, “one that invented bread, society, language and the ability to live as 350 neighbouring nations without land war, not without rancour … but without a lust for land and power, without religious war, without slaves, without poverty but with a profound sense of responsibility for the health of Mother Earth for more than 120,000 years.” According to him they also invented democracy and government.

The book won the 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Award and has sold over 100,000 copies. The ABC and Screen Australia have provided funding for a documentary series written by Pascoe. According to the head of ABC Indigenous, Kelrick Martin, the book “offers a revelatory context for future generations of Australians and ABC Indigenous is proud to work alongside Bruce Pascoe … to correct these stereotypes.” A children’s version, “Young Dark Emu: A Truer History”, is now part of school curriculums.

Much of Dark Emu’s positive reception has to do with Pascoe’s masterful presentation skills, for he is naturally telegenic. Showing a knack for reading his audience, he can be avuncular, affable, disarming, reserved, and even melancholic. He is articulate, an orator, persuasive and endearing. Complementing this is his disdain for modernity and his claim that we can control climate change by using the techniques of the “old people”, as he refers to them, thus “calming the bush down”.

He has admirers aplenty. Such is their effusiveness, you could say Pascoe is the Tom Jones of historians. To his detractors, he is a revisionist and fantasist. Writing for the Weekend Australian Magazine in May this year, journalist Richard Guilliatt observed “many academic experts also believe Dark Emu romanticises pre-contact indigenous society as an Eden of harmony and pacifism, when in fact it was often a brutally tough survivalist way of life”. But as Guilliatt also noted, there is a reluctance in academia to make public these criticisms given the author’s popularity and aboriginality.

If you think that is too much of a stretch, remember that this year the University of NSW’s science faculty distributed guidelines to lecturers, warning them that it was “inappropriate” to specify an estimate of when the first human migration to Australia occurred. Instead, staff were told it was “more appropriate” to say Aboriginals have been here “since the beginning of the Dreaming/s”, as this “reflects the beliefs of many Indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia, from the beginning of time, and came from the land”.

That a science faculty would resort to this is ridiculous. While some studies estimate that Aboriginals have been here for as long as 65,000 years, the conservative estimate is 50,000 years ago. You would think then that any public figure who claimed it took place 120,000 years ago would be asked to justify that estimate. Yet I know of at least three occasions this year when Pascoe has repeated that claim when interviewed by an ABC presenter, none of whom even so much as sought clarification.

The ABC’s political correspondent, Andrew Probyn wrote this month that Dark Emu “demolish(es) the myth that Australia at the time of white settlement was a wilderness occupied by merely hunter gatherers”. ABC presenter Wendy Harmer referred to Pascoe as an “oracle”, and chief political writer Annabel Crabb tweeted admiringly regarding Dark Emu: “I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much from one slim volume”. Another ABC presenter, Benjamin Law, said “reading it should be a prerequisite to non-Indigenous citizenship”. Just this month RN Drive host Patricia Karvelas concluded an interview with Pascoe with a fawning endorsement of the book, urging listeners to buy it. “Just do it now,” she stated.

If scholarly authenticity in the fields of history and anthropology were determined by the number of “oohs” and “aahs” uttered into an ABC microphone, Dark Emu would be nothing short of magisterial. In reality, such recognition is properly realised only through sources that are both primary and verifiable. Even then, the mere inclusion of this material is nothing more than window dressing if the analysis and conclusions are far removed from those sources. The “feel-good” factor should never be a criterion in such evaluations.

Those giving accolades to Pascoe seem oblivious to the many instances, particularly on the website Dark Emu Exposed, where readers have highlighted stark inconsistencies regarding what appears in his claims and what is outlined in the respective primary source. Peter O’Brien, a Quadrant magazine contributor and retired military officer, has written a book “Bitter Harvest: The Illusion of Aboriginal Agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu” highlighting what he claims are Pascoe’s omissions, mischaracterisations, and distortions.

The stoush has been described as a resumption of the history wars, a term I think unhelpful, for it leads to much distraction in fruitlessly arguing solely about the motives of historians. If anything, and for once I am not being facetious, the modern historian’s role is in one way analogous to that of today’s comedian. Both professions now operate according to the woke expectation that practitioners must always “punch up”, never down. A historian can be sure of at least a favourable reception, as in Pascoe’s case, if he or she promotes and defends the wretched at the expense of a so-called privileged demographic.

To do the reverse, however, is taboo. Many of you will remember the furore that erupted in 2002 following the release of historian and now Quadrant editor-in-chief Keith Windschuttle’s book “The Fabrication of Aboriginal History: Van Diemen’s Land 1803-1847”. Taking issue with many historians, Windschuttle disputed the theory that indigenous Tasmanians were the subject of genocide, arguing they had succumbed largely through introduced diseases. He also dismissed the romantic theory that the original inhabitants had engaged in “guerrilla warfare” against Europeans, stating their attacks were motivated by a desire for tea, sugar and flour.

To question the narrative was unforgivable, but what made it worse in the eyes of leftist academics was that Windschuttle both exposed and embarrassed many a historian by forensically analysing their footnotes. What he demonstrated was both revelatory and disconcerting. Historians had inflated the figures of killings, misquoted colonial administrators to give the appearance of malevolent intent towards Aboriginals, and even listed as sources local newspapers that had not yet existed at the time of the historical incidents in question.

The response from the historical establishment was both defensive and risible. As reported by The Australian’s Ean Higgins in 2004, the Australian Historical Association even discussed enacting a code of ethics to prevent historians from criticising their peers’ integrity in public. One academic described his astonishment at the “pack mentality” of his fellow historians. “It was like ‘let’s get a group of people together to ambush Windschuttle’,” he stated.

The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen wrote nearly 10 years ago to this day of visiting the National Gallery of Victoria and seeing an exhibition surrounded by a fence. In the confines pasted individually on the floor were the 472 pages of Windschuttle’s book. The work, by artist Julie Gough, was designed for visitors to walk over the exhibition and thus, in her words, “blacken and erase this text”. As Albrechtsen states, this was an example of “the Left’s addiction to emotion, feel-good symbolism and an infantile rejection of facts as heresy”.

Despite the many misgiving concerning Pascoe’s research and findings, Dark Emu shows every sign of being regarded as the most authoritative text in its field. Whether it be apathy or pusillanimity, our public institutions accept without question his conclusions, irrespective of the anomalies, or how ludicrous his premises. Only last year Pascoe wrote “Almost no Australians know anything about the Aboriginal civilisation because our educators, emboldened by historians, politicians and the clergy, have refused to mention it for 230 years” – a claim that can only be described as a conspiracy theory.

Indigenous and non-indigenous Australian students alike are entitled to a history curriculum based on fact, whether the subject matter is triumphs, tragedies or atrocities. To have it any other way is a politicisation of the discipline. It is time Pascoe responded to his critics. Only then can readers decide whether Dark Emu is historical fact or a flight of fancy.

A well researched article, Mocker.  Perhaps Mr Pascoe might care to read Geoffrey Blainey's "History of Australia's People" and offer his views on the 'alternative' history?
👍 7

Rob 37 MINUTES AGO  (Edited)
Does Mr Pascoe cite any evidence for his wild assertions or is evidence just too passe in our post millennium world. 
👍 7

No need

It slows down the telling of the story

Another Peter 37 MINUTES AGO
This book is full of wishful thinking rather than fact. In a sensible world the author would be metaphorically shot down in flames and the book filed under "fiction". In our world unfortunately it has become a textbook. We have now reached peak stupidity.
👍 11

Cameron 37 MINUTES AGO
You might want to look a little more closely at Pascoe's ancestry.  
👍 7

Andrew of Toowoomba 38 MINUTES AGO
An outstanding piece. Thank you.

Drunk on ideological relativism, the left is unable to recognise fact or truth. They can simply make up ethics, biology, climate science, and history as they go along. Like all liars, they cause untold harm, yet their delusional house of cards will inevitably fall.
👍 12

Botswana O'Hooligan 39 MINUTES AGO
The Rabbit proof fence, the Hindmarsh Bridge affair, and of course the "stolen" generation spring to mind. The legal people would have excelled themselves trying to mine the stolen generation mountain of gold but alas, they could only conjure up one case that paid out and it was fairly "iffy" at that so inadvertently the legal fraternity have done us a favour. The great pity of it all to someone who grew up among aboriginals in FNQ is that the charlatans destroy the goodwill people have for the ordinary everyday Mum and Dad aboriginals who battle along like the rest of us.

👍 9

Book Review: Dark Emu. Black Seeds: agriculture or accident by Bruce Pascoe | Australian Greens
Chris Johansen

Until I saw Bruce Pascoe on a TV program, I think it was “Big Ideas” on ABC, it did not enter my consciousness that Australian Aboriginals practised agriculture long before, and right up to, the European invasion. My perception was that pre-invasion Aboriginals were merely nomadic hunters and gatherers, not fitting into any accepted definitions of sedentary agriculture. A really shocking realization for me – passing myself off as an agricultural expert but totally ignorant of the pre-occupation agricultural history from whence I came.

Dark Emu (Magdabala Books 2014) documents the agriculture practiced by Aboriginals across the country before 1788. It includes widespread cultivation of native yams (root crops, similar to potato), which is not very surprising as this is the traditional and current staple foodstuff of the Pacific islands and New Guinea. It also documents how native grasses were selected for their seeds, and grown over large areas, with the grain used for their flour in a similar way as for wheat, barley, corn, etc. Further, evidence is produced that they herded and corralled kangaroos using brush fences and nets, to separate males for consumption but draft off the females to ensure sustainability of the kangaroo population. Also, there were many sophisticated methods of trapping fish, some of which are in evidence today (but the early documentation used this as evidence of the “laziness” of those fishers – just sitting down and watching the fish get caught!). Not to mention irrigation systems, stone and clay-rendered dwellings, and sophisticated food storage systems. At first glance, all of this may seem like Dreamtime dreaming, so what was the evidence?

The evidence is drawn from the journals/diaries/log books of the early European explorers and settlers, thoroughly referenced in the book. The permanent yam fields of Victoria were quickly destroyed as the Europeans moved in with their sheep and cattle, which chewed off the yam plants to ground level. Aboriginal “villages”, with their elaborate huts (not just bark propped against a tree as is the popular perception), grain storage facilities and water wells, were destroyed in the various (forgotten) wars that inevitably erupted as the Europeans took over the land. The invaders did not like to leave behind any evidence of “villages” as this would signify sedentary occupation and thus negate “terra nullius”, the justification used by the invaders for the next 200 years for their occupation of the land.

Ok, let's stop the article right there, the words "Terra Nullius" were used by a clever union lawyer just 27 years ago. It was a "straw" concept, where the lawyers build up an obviously false statement, then burn it down, and everyone yells out "We agree".

Those words were never ever used in Australia prior to that year. But ever since 1992, they've preached the sound of those two words a billion times. Yes, I'm exaggerating on purpose, but it feels like it. For those interested, the two words appear to have been first used in Europe (on a totally unrelated subject, nothing to do with Australia) back in 1888.

https://en.wikipedia.org /wiki /Terra_nullius

The Background to Australia's "Terra Nullius" below:
In 1992, in a High Court decision akin to New Zealand's formal declaration of historic land rights in 1840, the Murray Island decision asserted that "Native Title" pre-existed prior to 1788 for community governance purposes, and rejected the use of "Terra Nullius" inferred in an earlier 1971 decision by a Queensland judge. Note, the words had not been used back in 1971, but according to the 1992 lawyer, their meaning had been implied.

Yeah, implied. How to evolve into greater "cleverness", start by speaking a foreign language that can be only partially understood, that sounds clever, then say the words were obviously not true and then watch their absence of truth, and the presumption of a "historic guilt", work their "magic" as we assume we have evolved from the earlier "racist status" of our earlier "Latin speaking" ancestors.

So what was Judge Richard Blackburn's opinion which was overruled, again, note, it was just his opinion

In the law of the time of British colonisation of Australia there was a distinction between settled colonies, where the land, being "desert and uncultivated", was claimed by right of occupancy, and conquered or ceded colonies. The term "desert and uncultivated" included territory in which resided "uncivilized inhabitants in a primitive state of society".

His decision then declared that the Crown had the power to extinguish native title, if it existed.

His opinion was overruled in 1992. His opinion in 1971 was unjust and wrong. To say his opinion was the opinion of everyone in the British Government in 1788, is absurd. Read the history of the instructions given to Phillip in 1787. Many "stuck up" nobles may have thought the natives had no title, and, many more would have assumed they did, and others just would not have known what they thought.

It's referred to of course as the "Mabo decision" after the trade union leader who had taken this case up to the High Court. Famously alluded to in "The Castle", a movie filled with Australia's talent at "sending itself up".

A legal argument, below.

The conclusions that have been reached may be stated baldly. First, in Mabo the High Court corrected the Australian common law by recognising the existence of the common law doctrine of native title, but in order to accomplish this there had been no need to "reject" any "doctrine of terra nullius". Ed Correct.

Second, by doing something like "rejecting" a "doctrine of terra nullius" in Mabo, the High Court resolved a long-term discursive crisis in Australian legal discourse in which the law had been seen to be inequitable and unjust because it no longer conformed to the relevant "truths" in Australian society. Ed Hmmm.

Thus, the "rejection of terra nullius" provided a rhetorical explanation for why Aboriginal land rights had historically not been recognised; it re-legitimated the rule of law in Australia; it allowed the Australian judicial system to once again appear to reflect the relevant "truths" in Australian society; and it realigned truth and power to reinforce the legitimacy of the Australian nation. Ed Ok, I've removed the previous words "white Australian nation", because we are all Australians, blood-bought through the Lord's cross.

If the "rejection of terra nullius" as such marked a judicial revolution at all, it was a stagemanaged one: things were changed in order for things to remain the same.
End of conclusions

But things never remain the same, we are either promoting peace, or war. Each person must choose whom to follow.

Ok, let's keep going.

Extract from The-spread-of-people-to-australia by australianmuseum.net.au

"Human" Remains
The oldest human fossil remains found in Australia date to around 40,000 years ago – 20,000 years after the earliest archaeological evidence of "human" occupation. Nothing is known about the physical appearance of the first "humans" that entered the continent over 60,000 years ago. What is clear is that Aboriginal people living in Australia between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago had much larger bodies and more robust skeletons than they do today and showed a wide range of physical variation.

Ed OK, they were "human-like", but they were not like us nor were they like the aborigines living in Australia in 1788

Stone tools

Stone tools in Australia, as in other parts of the world, changed and developed through time. Some early types, such as wasted (worn) blades, core tools, large flake scrapers and split pebble choppers continue to be made and used right up to today.

About 6000 years ago, new and specialised tools such as points, backed blades and thumbnail scrapers became common. Thumbnail scrapers (the size and shape of a human thumbnail).

Important Sites
Coobool Creek

The Coobool Creek collection consists of the remains of 126 individuals excavated from a sand ridge at Coobool Crossing, New South Wales, in 1950. After their excavation, they became part of the University of Melbourne collection until they were returned to the Aboriginal community for reburial in 1985.

The remains date from 9000 to 13,000 years old and are significant because of their large size when compared with Aboriginal people who appeared within the last 6000 years (i.e. the actual descendants of Adam). They are physically similar to Kow Swamp people with whom they shared the cultural practice of artificial cranial deformation.

Absolutely Gross.

“Barley Grass” Plant of the Week - Study it, learn it, love it and make it feel welcome


Rethinking Indigenous Australia's agricultural past

It has long been thought that prior to white settlement, Indigenous Australians lived a nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Now some scholars argue that the first Australians practised forms of agriculture and aquaculture, writes Cathy Pryor.

When explorer and surveyor Major Thomas Mitchell ventured into Australia’s inland in the early 1800s, he recorded in his journals his impressions of the landscape. Around him he noted expanses of bright yellow herbs, nine miles of grain-like grass, cut and stooped, and earthen clods that had been turned up, resembling ‘ground broken by the hoe’.

Mitchell, like other early explorers, noted what many white Australians would later overlook: there was evidence everywhere on this vast continent that Aboriginal Australians managed the land.


Aboriginal foodways: Towards a return of native food in Australia
by Anne-Marie Szabo on 8 February, 2019 in Food and Culture

The value of eating local sustainable produce has been promoted over the last decade for its benefits – fresher food, better environmental practices, reduced food miles, support of local farmers and economies. This, as in many countries, has manifested itself in Australia through an increase in farmers’ markets, community gardens, local food boxes and restaurants specialising in farm to table cuisine, all of which are positive developments in fostering a better relationship between people and their food. Nevertheless, these issues need to be explored further, examining and questioning what is ‘local’ and ‘sustainable’. In the case of Australia, as a ‘foodie’, cosmopolitan and multicultural society that wholeheartedly embraces ethnic cuisines from around the world, Australians remain surprisingly unaware about what is native and indigenous Australian food.

Most foods consumed in Australia are not native to the continent but were introduced by British settlers or subsequently brought in with later waves of immigration from Europe and Asia. Many of the staples grown, such as wheat, soybean and barley crops, have suffered lower yields following the substantial increase in temperatures as a result of climate change. Yet for more than 50,000 years Aboriginal Australians cultivated and domesticated crops that were native to the continent, and therefore better adapted to its temperature and environmental pressures, providing great abundance, nutrition and diversity of food to Indigenous communities. Why local flora and fauna has not been embraced as a food source, and the knowledge of Aboriginal peoples revered and preserved, very much ties into the country’s history of colonisation. A native Australian food sector has been slow to emerge but is gaining traction and is likely, in the coming years, to rewrite a more authentic local and sustainable food paradigm.

Ed - These articles look ok.

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