Gugu Badhun: People of the Valley of Lagoons launched

Tuesday, 6 June 2017 - 4:45pm
Gugu Badhun people and authors at the book launch in Townsville.
Gugu Badhun people and authors at the book launch in Townsville.

Gugu Badhun: People of the Valley of Lagoons by Yvonne Cadet-James, Robert Andrew James, Sue McGinty and Russell McGregor was launched today at the AIATSIS National Native Title Conference 2017. 

Bridging historical scholarship and Aboriginal oral tradition, this innovative book tells the story of the Gugu Badhun people of the Valley of Lagoons in North Queensland. It provides new insights into Aboriginal–European interactions, and new understandings of how Aboriginal people sustained their identities and exercised agency.

Speaking at the launch, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies CEO, Craig Ritchie said it lays bare violence and oppression, but also recognises the inter-racial cooperation and friendships, which were equally part of Gugu Badhun experience.

“It tells of a people whose options were limited by state power and public racism but who remained proud and undaunted, making their own decisions for their collective and individual benefit,” Mr Ritchie said.

“Much of the story is told in the words of Gugu Badhun people themselves. Interviews are interspersed with commentary and analysis by the four authors, one of whom, Yvonne Cadet-James, is herself a Gugu Badhun elder.

“Telling the Gugu Badhun story, telling all our stories, is one of the most powerful tools we have for building bridges of understanding and sharing our knowledge. 

“Collecting and publishing our stories is one of the remits of Aboriginal Studies Press and AIATSIS, and I’m looking forward to this story reaching a broad audience.”

Gugu Badhun woman Janine Gertz said like many other Aboriginal nations, Gugu Badhun people have experienced the anguish of invasion, dispossession and discrimination.

“The story contained within this book is peppered with tragedy but has a stronger theme of self-determination – it is also a story of resilience, survival, adaptation, kinship and community,” Ms Gertz said.

“The story of colonisation is what connects us to the national story but perhaps what is missing within the literature about Aboriginal people is localised and nuanced narratives of how Aboriginal nations adapted, changed, challenged and transformed themselves.

“This is something this book does and it is particularly relevant to the discussions which are occurring right now in Indigenous affairs, where concepts of sovereignty, self-determination and nationhood are being re-imagined and reconfigured.”  

Download Gugu Badhun: People of the Valley of Lagoons now.

Media enquiries

Commesmedia@aiatsis.gov.au or 02 6246 1605

Last reviewed: 6 Jun 2017