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Sand Talk

Are you curious about the patterns and song lines of the Dreaming and its relevance today? Or maybe you’d just like to enrich what you’ve already learned from Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, and Bill Gammage’s The Biggest Estate on Earth. Clear some shelf space for Sand Talk. It’s a game changer.

In a sharing of knowledge that goes far deeper than “a welcome ceremony at the start and a dance at the end”, Sand Talk opens a door
and invites you in to a different way of being and thinking. In each chapter, Yunkaporta explores aspects of traditional knowledge using stories and symbols, building on a series of yarns with diverse people who extend his own thinking.

“Story-mind is a way of thinking that encourages dialogue about history from different perspectives, as well as the raw learning power of narrative itself. There has to be an exchange of stories if you want to be awake and grown,” he says.

He acknowledges the difficulty of explaining aboriginal notions of time and place in English. For example: “We don’t have a word for non-linear in our languages because nobody would consider travelling, thinking or talking in a straight line in the first place.”

The day to day world for many of us values straight lines, straight talk, and fastest-ways-to-do. Meandering is viewed at best as dithering. I think I’ll put his sentence over my desk. It makes me smile. What might the problems of today look like through the lens of Indigenous knowledge? How might we look beyond things and focus on the connections between them? To achieve sustainable change in the world, he says, it’s necessary to harness the power of story, and talk.

This is an extraordinary book – lively and generous, engaging and relevant. Don’t rush it; feel it. And above all, enjoy it.