Fifty years ago, a group of striking Aboriginal stockmen in the remote Northern Territory of Australia heralded a revolution in the cattle industry and a massive shift in Aboriginal affairs. Now, after many years of research, A Handful of Sand tells the story behind the Gurindji people's famous Wave Hill Walk-off in 1966 and questions the meanings commonly attributed to the return of their land by Gough Whitlam in 1975. Written with a sensitive, candid and perceptive hand, author Charlie Ward reveals the path Vincent Lingiari and other Gurindji elders took to achieve their land rights victory, and how their struggles in fact began, rather than ended, with Whitlam's handback. Not since Frank Hardy's The Unlucky Australians (1968) have the experiences of the Gurindji Walk-off leaders and their children been related with such insight and empathy. This book is an essential contribution to understanding the complex nature of the challenges confronting both 'white' Australian policy makers and remote Aboriginal community leaders. *** "'Sensitivity' is an overused term, but the acuity of Ward's book lies in this and a commitment so great that it cannot shy away from the people and places involved or the rawness of it all. Ward details the human cost of oscillating political fortune as well as other realities: intergenerational conflict, substance abuse, the difficulties of a cash economy, encroaching age and senility, and the issues of translation in policy makers' requirements. For those wanting a firmer grasp of the history of Indigenous land rights in Australia, no finer introduction of the tone, texture, and story could be given, due in large part to Ward's impressive array of interviews. ...For those interested in the ongoing social and political turbulence for many Indigenous people more generally, this book will also yield rich insights." --Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) Journal, 4:2, 2017 (Series: Australian History) Subject: Politics, Aboriginal Studies, ?Australian Studies, Racial Studies, History
Charlie Ward is a writer and historian, based in Darwin. He worked in the Gurindji communities of Kalkaringi and Daguragu between 2004 and 2006 and then as a researcher with the Stolen Generations' Link-up program in Alice Springs. Now an oral history interviewer with the National Library of Australia, Charlies work has appeared in journals including Griffith Review, Meanjin and Southerly.