The other day I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Lucashenko. She's an award-winning Goorie (Aboriginal) author of Bundjalung and European heritage whose latest novel, Edenglassie is a coming of age story, a love story, and at turns a fiercely funny and shockingly true yarn set across 5 generations.
The Miles Franklin award-winning author was in Byron for an appearance to promote her timely book, which comes to us like a beacon in the wake of the failed referendum bid to have indigenous Australians recognised in the constitution through a Voice to Parliament.
Edenglassie is the name that the colonisers gave a part of Brisbane/ Meanjin (now called Newstead) through which Breakfast Creek runs. Whitefelllas established their seat of governance on one side of the creek and relegated the Blackfellas to the other. Their numbers were about equal.
It's the1840’s and a young fisherman from Nerang called Mulanyin is approaching manhood. He has seen 15 mullet runs up the river and is learning the law of the land, one that has successfully operated for thousands of generations. It's called the Court of the Federation. This is Aboriginal civilisation.
"Tell the truth, never steal, be brave, and share what you've got".
What we see in the coloniser's system of government can hardly be called civilised. It condemns a native leader to hang for resisting the foreign invasion. The hangman is a convicted rapist and makes an almost unreadable mess of the hanging. True horror story. 1855. This author has done some serious homework during the four years it took her to write the book.
Meanwhile in 2024, the bicentenary of Jon Oxley's "discovery" of Brisbane, 'Queensland’s Oldest Aboriginal', centenarian Granny Eddie Blanket, finds herself the focus of media attention after a fall. Her doctor, John, falls hard too.... for her activist granddaughter Winona.“What this place needs is a revolution, beginning with Treaty, reparations and a fuck-ton of social housing,” she declares.
Like Lucashenko's 2013 book Mulllumbimby, Edenglassie writes about love, loss and the impacts of colonisation, turning the gaze around to let us into the indigenous perspective. I spoke with her about staying human in the face of the apocalypse that is colonisation.