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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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Conclusion Reflections from Yagan Square



Reflections from Yagan Square

It’s 15 July 2018 and I’m in Perth’s new central civic space and cultural district: Yagan Square. I’m sitting in the shadow of Wirin, a 9-metre- high cast-iron sculpture of Yagan created by Noongar artist Tjyllyungoo Lance Chadd. Wirin, which means spirit in Noongar language, portrays the Whadjuk Noongar leader holding his spear and mirra [spear thrower], connected to the Country he sought to protect and reaching towards the sky in an astonishing design that, as Tjyllyungoo explains, “signifies our people’s longevity in the spirit of our Culture” (Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority). This new statue of Yagan acts as the centrepiece of the 1.1 hectare site that was inaugurated on 3 March 2018, connecting the Perth train station, Horseshoe Bridge and the Perth busport. While performing important economic, cultural and social functions, Yagan Square serves an even more important symbolic function, acting as a zone of “cross-hatch” where Noongar elements “breach” into the settler colonial city and embody a narrative of continuity that restores the connections between the spirit of Yagan and those who came after him. This was achieved through a close collaboration between a Whadjuk Noongar advisory group, led by Richard Walley, and numerous architects and artists who collaborated to bring back to the surface the cultural and spiritual significance of the site in Noongar culture and, as Walley explains, “to capture that sense of place, which is too often destroyed in favour of a ‘sense of usefulness’” (Laurie “Yagan...

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