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Legacies of Indigenous Resistance

Pemulwuy, Jandamarra and Yagan in Australian Indigenous Film, Theatre and Literature


Matteo Dutto

This book explores the ways in which Australian Indigenous filmmakers, performers and writers work within their Indigenous communities to tell the stories of early Indigenous resistance leaders who fought against British invaders and settlers, thus keeping their legacies alive and connected to community in the present. It offers the first comprehensive and trans-disciplinary analysis of how the stories of Pemulwuy, Jandamarra and Yagan (Bidjigal, Bunuba and Noongar freedom fighters, respectively) have been retold in the past forty years across different media. Combining textual and historical analysis with original interviews with Indigenous cultural producers, it foregrounds the multimodal nature of Indigenous storytelling and the dynamic relationship of these stories to reclamations of sovereignty in the present. It adds a significant new chapter to the study of Indigenous history-making as political action, while modelling a new approach to stories of frontier resistance leaders and providing a greater understanding of how the decolonizing power of Indigenous screen, stage and text production connects past, present and future acts of resistance.

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Chapter 7 Breaching into the settler colonial city: Re-enacting crosshatch history in Kelrick Martin’s Yagan


Chapter 7

Breaching into the settler colonial city: Re-enacting crosshatch history in Kelrick Martin’s Yagan

This is Noongar country. It’s not removed, it’s not outback. It’s not away from everyone. It’s here. It’s the suburb, it’s the city, it’s all these things and it has not gone away.

— Kelrick Martin, director Yagan (2013)

The Bunuba native title case discussed in Chapter 5 shows how, even within the limits of the current legislation, Indigenous peoples are exercising their agency to regain control of country. But, what about urbanized areas that have borne the brunt of colonization in Australia? How is native title recognized in cities like Sydney, Melbourne or Perth? And what role can film and television play in mediating this recognition? On 19 September 2006, Justice Wilcox of the Federal Court of Australia acknowledged that the Noongar people of Western Australia have and continue to maintain connection to country, their culture, laws and customs in the face of the 1829 declaration of Crown Sovereignty over the Swan River Colony. Accordingly, Wilcox recognized Noongar Native Title over the urban area of Perth. This was a landmark decision in the history of Australian native title negotiation, and, to this day, remains the only case in which native title has been acknowledged over an urban area. Not surprisingly, both the Western Australian and the Commonwealth governments appealed the deliberation, arguing that the impact of colonial genocide, dispossession and displacement would have made it impossible for...

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