The emu is an iconic Australian bird of significance to all Australians, but especially so to Indigenous Australians who have had a special relationship with this curious animal for thousands of years. In this bilingual, highly illustrated, full-colour publication Something about emus reveals valuable ecological knowledge in a collection of essays by senior members of the Bininj Gunwok language group from Kakadu National Park and Western Arnhem Land. Something about emus goes beyond biology and ecology to encompass other culturally important domains such as the visual and verbal arts, music, ritual and the relationships between humans and animals. Whilst Indigenous ecological knowledge is increasingly acknowledged as a valuable part of Australia’s cultural heritage, such knowledge is most richly expressed in Australia’s Indigenous languages which have largely remained inaccessible to those outside their communities.
Garde’s expose of this unique bond takes the reader on a bilingual journey into the past, highlighting the close kinship between humans and animals that is rapidly disintegrating in a western dominated view of planet earth and the challenges of sustainability. The narrative is profoundly important because it places a spotlight on the richness of Indigenous knowledge, whilst highlighting the importance of homelands, language and customary practice that remains the backbone to Australia’s uniqueness. — Joe Morrison, CEO, Northern Land Council.