Indigenous Resources For Becoming An Ally
As tensions spark and catch fire around the world – fanned by frustration over systemic violence, bigotry and racism – it’s hard to find the right words to express solidarity and voice our feelings. But our voice and feelings aren’t what’s important right now. Because without answers, the most powerful thing we can do to move forward and start creating a more socially just, equal and better world, is to become allies.
In a recent (and very viral) Instagram post titled ‘10 Ways to be a Non-Optical Ally’, assistant editor at Square Peg Books and passionate diversity advocate, Mireille Charper says those that want to support and provide practical allyship, need to put in the work. It’s up to all of us to educate ourselves, do the research, reach out to our friends who are people of colour (to check they are OK, not for advice) and stop supporting systems and institutions that do not further diversity or amplify diverse voices. We acknowledge we may never fully understand and will likely get it wrong sometimes but we want to learn and do our best to be part of the solution. We’re listening and learning, always.
And although it’s tempting to look at the heart-rendingly sad death of George Floyd and say: “only in America”, we believe it’s important to learn more about the truth of our own backyard first (432 Indigenous Australians have died in custody since 1991). Being educated about the experiences of our First Nations people, and truly listening to their voices, is the first place to start towards true equality. It can be uncomfortable realising our own privilege, but as Ibram X. Kendi says in his must-read book, the opposite of ‘racist’, isn’t ‘not racist’. We need to be anti-racist.
A Google search will serve up a plethora of reliable resources delving further into race, diversity and equality (and is a great starting point) but can be hard to know where to begin. We believe we have a role as an ally to use our platform to amplify the powerful First Nations and Indigenous voices here in Australia.
So to help you begin your journey of allyship education, we’ve compiled a huge list of helpful resources, websites, leaders, groups, books and businesses created by, or supporting, Australia’s First Nations people. We’ve also included some international resources to begin reading and following to help understand global issues. This is by no means an exhaustive list; so please let us know if you have any suggestions to add.
Let’s all do the work and start reading, watching, listening, learning and following.
ARTWORK ABOVE: LUCY YARAWANGA FROM BABARRA WOMEN’S CENTRE – Bawaliba (Spirit Woman) and Ngalyod (Rainbow Serpent)
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article may contain names and descriptions of people who have died.
IMAGE: BLACKFULLA BOOKCLUB @blackfulla_bookclub
Dark Emu argues for a reconsideration of the ‘hunter-gatherer’ tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession. Accomplished author Bruce Pascoe provides compelling evidence from the diaries of early explorers that suggests that systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia’s past is required.
Australia’s leading Indigenous publishing house. Aboriginal owned and led, they celebrate and nurture the talent and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.
Novels to non-fiction, poetry to prose, Reconciliation Australia has collected a range of some of the most mind-expanding and heart-capturing stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors to get you started.
An initiative started during the COVID-19 isolation period by Teela Reid and Min Dutton, Blackfulla Bookclub is an Instagram account that shares Indigenous books, stories and writing with the aim of being ‘A First Nations thinking platform’.
How To Be An Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.
Independent journalist, former editor and host of The Curtain Podcast, Amy McQuire is a Darumbal/South Sea woman writing on racism, feminism, justice and wrongful convictions.
NON-FICTION BOOK LIST
Talking To My Country – Stan Grant
Mullumbimby – Melissa Lucashenko
Am I Black Enough For You – Anita Heiss
Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss
Fire Country – Victor Steffensen
Welcome to Country – Marcia Langton
The Biggest Estate on Earth – Bill Gammage
Deep Time Dreaming – Billy Griffiths
Talking Sideways – Reg Dodd and Malcolm McKinnon
Not Just Black and White – Tammy and Lesley Williams
FICTION / POETRY
Fire Front: First Nations Poetry edited by Alison Whittaker
Too Much Lip – Melissa Lucashenko
That Dead Man Dance – Kim Scott
Comfort Food – Ellen van Neervan
Heat and Light – Ellen van Neervan
After the Carnage – Tara June Winch
Swallow the Air – Tara June Winch
Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms – Anita Heiss
Terra Nullius – Claire G. Coleman
IMAGE: SAMSON AND DELILAH
Aboriginal filmmaker Trisha Morton-Thomas, bites back at Australian history in this inspired satire.
In My Blood It Runs
An observational feature documentary following 10-yr-old Arrernte Aboriginal boy Dujuan as he grows up Alice Springs, Australia.
The Australian Dream: Adam Goode
The remarkable story of Indigenous AFL legend Adam Goodes. Through the backdrop of Goodes’ journey, the feature documentary explores race, identity and belonging in Australia today.
We Don’t Need A Map
A bold and provocative essay film by Warwick Thornton about the deeply spiritual meaning of the Southern Cross constellation for Aboriginal people.
Utopia is intent on lifting the veil on Australia’s racist treatment of its Aboriginal population, calling the conditions faced by Aboriginal people the country’s “dirtiest little secret”. An epic production by the Emmy and Bafta winning film-maker and journalist John Pilger, Utopia is both a personal journey and universal story of power and resistance and how modern societies can be divided between those who conform and a dystopian world of those who do not.
Samson and Delilah
Director Warwick Thornton’s first feature, about a pair of outcast Aboriginal kids who flee from their tiny central Australian community, went on to win many awards including the Camera d’Or (Gold Camera Award) for Best First Film at Cannes along with the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Film in 2009.
Connection to Country
Australia is home to the world’s oldest continuous culture. And yet Aboriginal elders from the Pilbara region of Western Australia, have to fight like mad to preserve their unique heritage from the ravages of Australia’s booming mining industry.
Reconciliation Film Club
Screen one of these documentaries from Australia’s leading Indigenous filmmakers with the Reconciliation Film Club. This platform has everything you need to support a successful event in your workplace or community.
Black Magic Woman
Redfern born and bred, Mundanara Bayles uses her podcast to celebrate and share the stories and journeys of First Nations peoples – from both here and around the world. The uplifting, conversational podcast highlights the diversity, resilience and deep history and culture of First Nations people to help foster understanding and acceptance.
Tiddas 4 Tiddas
An Instagram account and podcast, Tiddas 4 Tiddas is an initiative by Kamilaroi sisters @marlee.silva & @keelyysilva, celebrating Indigenous female excellence.
Always Ours Stories
Tune in to this podcast for inspiring stories from Indigenous Australian role models, hosted by Marlee Silva of Tiddas4Tiddas.
Pretty For an Aboriginal
Nakkiah Lui and Miranda Tapsell have conversations Australia is uncomfortable having – about sex, relationships, dating, power, and, most difficult of all, race.
Radio Station: #KND
Melbourne’s only Indigenous radio station, aiming to provide a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, arts, culture and politics.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENT
Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network. Seed are building a movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people for climate justice with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Their vision is for a just and sustainable future with strong cultures and communities, powered by renewable energy.
Ghost Nets Australia
An alliance of Indigenous communities stretching along 3000kms of coastline in the Gulf of Carpentaria to provide a systematic approach to addressing the issues of ghost nets (abandoned, discarded or lost fishing nets) across the whole region.
The Aboriginal Carbon Foundation
The AbCF catalyses life-changing, community prosperity, through carbon farming. Their aim is to build wealth for Traditional Owners and non-Aboriginal carbon farmers, implementing carbon projects that demonstrate environmental, social and cultural core benefits, through the ethical trade of carbon credits.
Original Power is a small community-focused organisation that aims to build the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through collective action.
Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council
Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners are fighting to defend their lands from Adani and the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments. Sign their petition and support their cause to protect their land.
(Read) Not passive victims: Indigenous Australians respond to climate change
Climate change is disproportionately threatening the cultures and health of Indigenous peoples globally. With intimate knowledge of Country, Indigenous Australians are actively adapting to challenges, finding opportunities for new initiatives and alliances to strengthen cultural practices.
ARTWORK: ARETHA BROWN @_enterthedragon_
Bábbarra Women’s Centre
Women from more than 12 language groups in the Maningrida region who have come together to share knowledge and ideas through the social enterprise, Bábbarra Designs, designing and hand-printing textiles that are sold around the world.
Grace Lillian Lee
Grace is a curator, artist and designer and the founder of First Nations Fashion + Design – a progressive platform created to nurture and support Indigenous creatives.
@gracelillianlee @first.nations.fashion.design firstnationsfashiondesign.com
Jenna is a mixed race Larrakia, Wardaman and Karajarri woman whose contemporary art practice explores the acts of identity/identification, label/labelling and the relationships formed between language, label and object. Being a Queer, Mixed Race, Asian (Japanese, Chinese and Filipino), Aboriginal Woman, Jenna’s practice is strongly influenced by her overlapping identities, childhood memory as well as maternal teachings of subject and process.
As a contemporary Aboriginal artist and designer from Goreng Goreng Country, Rachael uses art as a powerful tool in storytelling to educate and share Aboriginal culture and it’s evolution. Rachaels work often challenges and explores the themes of society’s perception of what Aboriginal art and identity is.
Elisa (LeeCee) Carmichael
Quandamooka woman Elisa Jane Carmichael is a multidisciplinary artist who honours her salt-water heritage by incorporating materials collected from Country, embracing traditional techniques, and expressing contemporary adaptations through painting, weaving, and textiles.
Charlotte is a 26 year old Wiradjuri, Ngiyampaa woman from New South Wales, with family ties to Condobolin and Ivanhoe. She currently lives in Naarm, creating Illustrations about her culture and identity and the impacts of Colonization. She focuses on community love and body positivity as well as Blak strength and power. Challenging the perception of her people through her own creative expression in a range of themes of modern subcultures, occultism and the First Nation’s futurism.
Aretha describes her art practice as a means of giving herself a context in which to live. Brown is inspired by Melbourne’s Western Suburbs and her journey as a queer teenager. Aretha’s first painting “Time is on our Side, You Mob”, was shown in the 2019 Top Arts exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). The work itself draws upon her experiences in social and political spaces as a young indigenous teenager. She now produces her own independent Youtube channel – speaking about politics, culture and art in her own Australian context.
Miimi and Jiinda
An Australian art business, founded by Aboriginal mother and daughter, Lauren Jarrett and Melissa Greenwood, Miiimi & Jiinda was established to not only create beautiful sacred artworks by sharing their rich cultural history, but to also implement change by creating national projects.
Established by proud Warumungu / Wombaya woman Jessica Johnson, Nungala Creative is a 100% Aboriginal owned and operated creative communications agency that produces innovative content with a distinct Aboriginal voice. The Nungala Creative product range reflects their ongoing commitment to the visibility, strength and empowerment of their people.
Warlukurlangu Artists is one of the longest running and most successful Aboriginal-owned art centres in Central Australia, producing gloriously coloured Aboriginal art, promoting Indigenous culture and supporting the remote communities of Yuendumu and Nyirripi since 1985.
Katie Wularni West
Yindjibarndi (Pilbara region, WA) textile artist using eco-dyeing (with plant matter foraged from the banks of the Yarra) to express her connection to country.
Mornington Island Designs
MIDesigns explore the boundaries of Indigenous art and fashion through their highly revered colourful designs.
Maryann Talia Pau
A Samoan-Australian artist and practising weaver based in the Redland’s, Quandamooka Country, Queensland, Maryann’s weaving practice is based on exchange and collaboration. Born in Samoa and raised in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, she is a maker of ‘Pasifika bling’ and creator of the One Million Stars To End Violence project along with recently co-founding Super Native Unlimited with her husband Mark Yettica-Paulson – a creative consultancy and clothing brand harnessing their love for Aboriginal and Pacific Island cultures.
Hopevale Art and Cultural Centre
The Hopevale Arts and Cultural Centre, along with the Nganthanun Bamawi Bayan Gallery, displays locally produced textiles, arts, crafts and artifacts as well as offering a workshop space for local artists. The centre offers a space to learn ancient skills, such as gathering and weaving of local fibres and dyeing them with bush dyes, and modern skills such as printing, etching and contemporary art techniques.
IMAGE: THE ULURU STATEMENT
Common Ground Australia
A social enterprise created by Rona Glynn-McDonald to share stories of Australia’s First Nations, Common Ground works towards a society that celebrates and embraces First Peoples.
Share Our Pride
This website was designed to give a glimpse of how life looks from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective. It works through material in a certain order so each chapter builds on the last. You’ll get a taste of traditional cultures and learn about our shared history.
The Uluru Statement
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation from First Nations to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”. It was issued to the Australian people in May 2017 following almost two years of work. The Uluru Statement calls for structural reform including constitutional change. Structural reform means establishing a new relationship between First Nations and the Australian nation based on justice and self-determination where Indigenous cultures and peoples can flourish, and we all move forward.
NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
National Reconciliation Week
National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is dedicated to supporting the careers of Queensland indigenous artists by providing a platform for exposure and income generation. CIAF is focused on offering an ethical art market place, attracting national and international collectors and curators, commissioning new work and providing pathways for emerging visual and performance artists.
Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair
The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair offers a rich exchange of art, culture, and ideas with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across Australia. DAAF provides a genuine opportunity to purchase artwork directly from over seventy Indigenous owned community Art Centres, whilst being immersed in an exciting program of traditional dance, workshops, film, fashion and music.
IMAGE: GRACE LILLIAN LEE FOR PIINPI: CONTEMPORARY INDIGENOUS FASHION
FASHION, BEAUTY AND BUSINESS
Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion
This exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery brings together a selection of garments and textiles by First Nations designers and artists from around Australia. The first major survey of contemporary Indigenous Australian fashion to be undertaken in this country, Piinpi sheds lights on a growing industry which is blossoming and set to become Australia’s major fashion movement. Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion celebrates Indigenous art, history and culture through the lens of contemporary fashion.
An Instagram account run by Olivia Williams, a proud Wiradjuri woman, sharing Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander businesses (plus accessible info on topics relevant to mob).
Created by Tahnee Edwards, a proud descendant of the Yorta Yorta, Taungurung, Boonwurrung and Mutti Mutti nations, Gammin threads was born from a love of typography, language and blak pride. It consists of “deadly chillwear” and accessories for people who believe in living colourfully, paying respect and empowering women.
Australian Indigenous Fashion
Curated Instagram account showcasing Australia’s thriving Indigenous fashion community. Created by communications professional, writer and blogger Yatu Widders Hunt.
Magpie Goose is a fashion label that aims to create new economic and creative opportunities for Aboriginal people around Australia; by providing a platform for people to connect, celebrate and learn from Aboriginal people, culture and stories.
Simone is an Indigenous (Gunggandji) artist, curator, designer and seamstress. Her artwork vibrantly captures her connection to country, Elders, children, Traditional Owners and the culture she embraces. She’s also built a career working in roles dedicated to supporting Indigenous people, primarily Native Title, so her work comes from the heart as well as the land.
Haus of Dizzy
Kristy Dickinson is a proud Wiradjuri Woman and the Designer and Creator of Haus of Dizzy. Kristy has been making jewellery for over 20 years and created Haus of Dizzy in 2015.
Take Pride Movement
Voicing First Nation Australians through wardrobe essentials for all races to celebrate the oldest surviving culture.
Deadly Denim works with Australian artists to create fashion with a socially conscious edge – sharing Indigenous culture, stories, and connection through art.
Arkie the label aims to use contemporary Indigenous art and fashion to create a platform for expression and education of Aboriginal Culture.
Nationally renowned and rising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from all over the country collaborate with Life Apparel Co to translate their traditional stories into contemporary fashion collections.
As a Gomeroi fashion designer, Colleen Tighe Johnson uses her talents to harness the spirit of her Gomeroi ancestors and revive Gomeroi Dreaming Stories through each design. Her label, Buluuy Mirrii (Black Star in her Gamilaraay language) has been featured on local and international runways and celebrates a range of Aboriginal talents.
Bush Medijina began in a small shed fueled by a big dream: to grow their business, to support Warningakalina women, to share their culture with others, and to preserve traditions and knowledge for future generations. Using recipes passed down to them by their mothers, aunties and grandmothers, they hand-make all products, harvesting local bush produce and combining it with natural and sustainable ingredients sourced from the most reputable suppliers across Australia.
An award winning, 100% Aboriginal owned and established business from Mudgee, in Central West New South Wales, IndigiEarth have a wide range of premium bush foods, skincare, tea, candles and pantry items made from authentic Australian native products that are ethically sourced and sustainably harvested from Aboriginal communities.
A haircare brand created by Julie Okely, a proud Kamilaroi woman born in Coonabarabran, NSW, Dilkara Australia ingredients are sourced from raw material suppliers that support local Indigenous harvesting techniques.
Australia’s first Indigenous and ethnic women’s lifestyle platform, featuring beauty, culture and creativity through enriching and empowering content.
IMAGE: LAYLA SAAD @laylasaad
Black Lives Matter
The official #BlackLivesMatter Global Network that aims to bring justice, healing, and freedom to Black people across the globe.
A North Carolina based therapist, author, poet, and social justice worker. Co-founder of the #amplifymelanatedvoices movement, along with @jessicawilson.msrd, Alishia runs a podcast called Body Trauma and is an outspoken advocate of ‘Fat Liberation’ and racial healing.
One half of fashion styling sister duo The Prescod Sisters, Danielle has been a long-time activist for African American rights in the US, using her Instagram to call out injustice and hollow allyship.
Author and speaker, founder of the The Next Question Show, a video web series imagining how expansive racial justice can be (co-created by Chi Chi Okwu and Jenny Booth Potter).
A writer and fashion consultant whose expertise is in race, intersectional feminism and fashion focusing mostly on sustainable and ethical fashion.
Ebony Janice Moore
Ebony Janice Moore is a womanist scholar, author, and activist doing community-organizing work, most specifically around black women’s body ownership as a justice issue; black women’s access to ease, joy, and play; and Hip Hop as a tool for sociopolitical and spiritual/religious movement making.
Layla Saad is an author, speaker & teacher on the topics of race, identity, leadership, personal transformation & social change. Layla is the New York Times bestselling author of the ground-breaking book Me and White Supremacy (2020), the host of Good Ancestor podcast, and the founder of Good Ancestor Academy.
The Great Unlearn
A community of everyday human beings committed to curiosity for what is possible in the world. Monthly, self-paced syllabi curated by public academic, writer, and lecturer @rachel.cargle.
The creator of ‘Anatomy of an Ally’ Danielle Coke is an artist creating art focused on social justice and her faith.
No White Saviors
No White Saviors is an advocacy campaign led by a majority female, majority African team of professionals based in Kampala, Uganda who were tired of being ignored when they repeatedly challenged the violence of the White Savior Complex (WSC) in their spheres of work.
Melanin And Sustainable Style
This US platform discusses the issues and celebrates the success of communities of color in sustainable fashion and beauty spaces. They aim to give the ethical industry an authentic and culturally relevant voice and pay homage to the beauty and style of melanin around the globe. We recommend checking out their list of ‘47 Badass Womxn of Colour influencers unapologetically changing the landscape of sustainable fashion’.