Songspirals: Sharing Women's Wisdom of Country through Songlines
About the book
'Songspirals' are sung by Aboriginal people to awaken Country, to make and remake the life-giving connections between people and place. 'Songspirals' are radically different ways of understanding the relationship people can have with the landscape.
For Yolngu people from North East Arnhem Land, women and men play different roles in bringing songlines to life, yet the vast majority of what has been published is about men's place in songlines. 'Songspirals' is a rare opportunity for outsiders to experience Aboriginal women's role in crying the songlines in a very authentic and direct form.
About the author
Gay'wu Group of Women
Gay'wu Group of Women is the 'dilly bag women's group', a deep collaboration between five Yolngu women and three non-Aboriginal women over a decade. They are all co-authors of 'Weaving Lives Together at Bawaka, North East Arnhem Land' and a book for young adults, 'Welcome to My Country'.
The group members are Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs, Banapuy Ganambarr, Djawundil Maymuru, Laklak Burarrwanga, Ritjilili Ganambarr, Sarah Wright, Kate Lloyd and Sandie Suchet-Pearson.
This is a fascinating reading and explanation of the systems of knowledge belonging to Aboriginal women in North East Arnhem Land which are expressed through song spirals handed down from generation to generation. It is also an exemplary collaborative work between Yolnu and European women, one that will surely serve as a model for future projects.
Relying on five song spirals the authors set out how these have facilitated the passing of knowledge across generations and allowed the Yolnu to maintain their culture while negotiating with European influences. They have also taught them how to map and describe specific places, as well as mark the boundaries of Yolnu Country. While previous studies have focussed on men's song spirals this is the story of the meaning of women's songlines. Above all this insightful book reveals the deep spirituality of these song spirals and their creators. This book marks a major contribution to our understanding of contemporary Indigenous culture.