Look for a Book! First Nations stories in the spotlight

‘So how do you fit 65,000+ years of Black Excellence into a book? You can’t – but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try!’

Kamilaroi man and Deadly Science founder Corey Tutt OAM and Balanggarra/Yolngu artist, animator and writer Molly Hunt have teamed up to create this beautifully illustrated celebration of Black excellence.

From sport to politics, This Book Thinks Ya Deadly! reflects on the careers of over 70 First Nations champions who have done amazing things in their respective fields, including Professor Tom Calma, Tony Armstrong, Dr Anita Heiss, Baker Boy and so many more.

Corey brings these profiles to life with inspiring personal stories and, together with the Molly Hunt’s vibrant illustrations, the book motivates readers of all ages to ask themselves the question ‘What makes me deadly?’.


A comment that she was ‘too pretty to be Aboriginal’ at a young age set the scene for author, speaker and filmmaker Sasha Kutabah Sarago to wrestle with her own beauty and femininity for much of her youth.

This coming-of-age memoir, Gigorou – the Jirrbal word for ‘beauty’ – catalogues Sasha’s intimate reckoning with her identity, heritage and what it means to be beautiful as an Aboriginal woman. And where does she find her answers? In the ancestral wisdom of 60,000 years of knowledge, of course. Sasha retraces her footsteps as a beauty assistant, model and magazine editor to where beauty began. Through the voices of her matriarchs, the creation stories of Oolana, the First Rainbow and Majal, and the spirit of Barangaroo, Truganini and Patyegarang, Sasha finds a path to redefining beauty.

At a time when women – especially First Nations women – are bombarded by sexism, racism and injustice, Gigorou invites us to confront and heal our relationship with beauty and ourselves, making it a vital and thought-provoking read.

She is the Earth is a verse novel from award-winning Yankunytjatjara/ Kokatha poet and artist Ali Cobby Eckermann that explores the power of connection to Country during times of grief and turmoil through 90 short lyric poems.

Ali Cobby Eckermann’s minimalistic prose serves to deliver maximum impact, with descriptions of interruption to connection to nature and Country described with visceral emotion. Healing and yearning war in equal measure in her direct –yet musical –stanzas with birds, rocks and a cacophony of animals adding to the chorus.

This is a book you can pick up and read in one sitting or one you can take the time to absorb as you sit with the verses and their deeper meaning. It is deeply meditative, illustrating how the emotional and psychological processing of Eckermann is in tune with the natural world that surrounds her.

26 January 1788 is a date seared into the minds of Australians – but what were the reactions, politics, gripes and concessions made by the Aboriginal leaders who witnessed the coming of the First Fleet in 1788? In her first book for adults, Renowned Muruwari playwright Jane Harrison weaves this radical retelling of the events of 26 January from a First Nations perspective.

Seven senior Aboriginal law men from different clans gather on the cliff overlooking Sydney Cove to witness the arrival of a boat, and then soon many more. They argue, bicker and compromise, and recount how the ships arrived previously and left. Ultimately, they are seeking a unanimous decision – should they welcome these newcomers, or should they respond with force? It’s a conversation that will change the course of history.

Based on Jane Harrison’s play of the same name, The Visitors exploits the playwright’s deftness for dialogue and relationships to its best. Creative, bold and engaging, The Visitors paints a vivid depiction of this pivotal moment in Australia’s history, with complex characters that will keep you reading till its final, inevitable end.

When Dujuan Hoosan first hit our screens in 2019 with the award-winning documentary  In My Blood It Runs, his story both shocked and delighted audiences. The newly-released book of the same name retells Arrernte and Garawa boy Dujuan’s story, this time through the power of written storytelling and art. 

With beautiful illustrations by 2022 Archibald Prize winner Blak Douglas, the reader becomes immersed once again in 10-year-old Dujuan’s strong connection to family, as well as the prejudice he faces from society and the education system.

We read along as he finds himself completely disengaged from school as he receives report cards based on a flawed curriculum that fails to acknowledge his knowledge of healing, culture, Country, and his grasp of three languages.

We see Dujuan start to fall under the ever-watchful eye of the police, with warnings from those in power of his supposed inevitable pathway to juvenile detention. However, this story is one of hope and self-determination, which shows the power and strength of culture, language and cultural practices in the life of a young boy who thrives as he heads bush to be with his family on ancestral lands. This is a powerful book and one to share with all generations.

This article is from the 50th edition of Reconciliation News magazine. Read the rest of the issue. 

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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