More than 50 years ago, in very top of the Northern Territory, two-hundred Gurindji, Mudburra, and Warlpiri workers walked-off the remote Wave Hill cattle station and declared themselves to be on strike. Led by the now legendary Aboriginal leader Vincent Lingiari these men set in motion a new future, which led to better pay, more control and ultimately land rights.
A Handful of Sand is a significant book by a young researcher who has worked in and studied indigenous communities for many years. The story has been covered at length in the press, however this book provides a perspective missing from much daily journalism.
Charlie Ward deals with the complexities of the Wave Hill walk-off and the return of the Gurindji land in a sophisticated manner. The narrative is honest and told with an appropriate reticence: Ward is an insider/outsider who never loses his professional judgement nor his respect for the protagonists in this inspiring but sometimes tragic story.
He is an historian who interrogates his material to dissect the complex issues of the state versus individuals and the internal tensions between generations of established leaders and younger Aborigines with different ambitions and capacities.
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