08 November, 2011

Listening to Country

Title: Listening to Country
Author: Ros Moriarty
Genre: Non Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Library

From GoodreadsFrom a trip made by the author to the Australian desert to spend time learning the secrets and hearing the stories of her husband's family's matriarchs, comes a warm, intimate account providing rare insight into the spiritual and emotional world of Aboriginal women. Ros Moriarty is a white woman married to an Aboriginal man. Over the course of many visits to her husband's family, she was fascinated to discover that the older tribal women of his family had a deep sense of happiness and purpose that transcended the abject material poverty, illness, and increasing violence of their community—a happiness that she feels is related to an essential "warmth of heart" that these women say has gone missing in today's world. In May 2006, she had the chance to spend time in the Tanami Desert in north central Australia with 200 Aboriginal women, performing women's Law ceremonies. Here is the story of that trip and her friendship with these women, as she tells their stories and passes on their wisdom and understanding. Offering a privileged window into the spiritual and emotional world of Aboriginal women, this book is a moving story of common human experience, the getting and passing on of wisdom, and the deep friendship and bonds between women. It carries a moving and profound sense of optimism in the fundamental humanity we all share.

What I thought: This is a profoundly moving and emotional book. Ros Moriarty's husband, John, is one of the Stolen Generation, a generation of children taken from their indigenous families to be raised in missions and homes. He is one of the lucky ones in that he was able to find his family later in life and reconnect with them and his culture.
The cultures of many Aboriginal tribes are dying out. The older generation, the last to remember living bush, remember the dreaming and remember all the old ceremonies and customs are dying out. The younger generation who through various government interventions and policies are caught between the indigenous culture and the white world. They are not as interested in the old ways, but are disenfranchised by white culture. Australian Aborigines have higher rates of disease, maternal death, child death and incarceration than their white counterparts.
This book looks at the value of Aboriginal culture and the changes Ros Moriarty has seen over the years of traveling back to visit family. It explores the importance of retaining the links to the bush and the Law and why those links are not being maintained.

Recommended for: those with an interest in Aboriginal Australia past and present.

Challenges:  100+ Challenge,