FREE ART PRINT
This book has previously been launched on zoom only so we are taking the opportunity of presenting the prizes for a Big Boomerang Colouring In Competition for primary and high school students in Cairns and region that we have organised to combine events. The competition is to build awareness of a project we are promoting to build a Big Icon in Cairns like the Big Pineapple, the Big Banana, the Big Prawn etc. It would be Australia’s only Big Icon focusing on Indigenous heritage. Prizes for the Colouring In Competition are family passes to Green Island on the Big Cat, Event Movies and Ten Pin Bowling and vouchers for accommodation at Coconut Resort and food at McDonalds and the Coffee Club. Barbara will also be giving away books.
REVIEW OF SECRETS AND LIESThis passionate and deeply researched book shines a light on what Aboriginal really means. The author’s unique style of gonzo journalism is fascinating, and illustrates the power of on-the-ground reporting. Despite it being a work of history, this story feels incredibly timely, given the ongoing political battles for First Nation rights in other parts of the globe. All told, Secrets and Lies is an eye-opening and fearless reflection on a vital topic.
BOOK PRICE SLASHED FROM $29.95 TO $7ea
Crazy discount for one more week only. William Cooper Gentle Warrior, a biography and history, is on sale and you can get 10 or more copies for the amazing price of $5 each – much less than what it costs to produce them. I have some special projects coming up that will make books on William Cooper in high demand so get in while you can. They will make great gifts and are good teaching tools. William Cooper started the first national Aboriginal organisation back in the 1930’s and was the father of NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Week.) He led his people on one of the few private protests worldwide against Kristallnacht, the start of the Holocaust. His legacy lives on and this book is highly acclaimed.
You can get it here – https://barbara-miller-books.com/
ANNIVERSARY OF KRISTALLNACHT 9-10 NOV
Shattered Lives Broken Dreams: William Cooper and Australian Aborigines Protest Holocaust covers the story of the Australian Aborigines’ League, led by William Cooper to protest Kristallnacht which he did on 6 Dec 1938 in a protest march to the German Consulate in Melbourne. They protested because the Nazis murdered 91 Jews, smashed the windows of numerous synagogues and Jewish businesses, set synagogues ablaze, and arrested thousands of Jews who they sent to concentration camps. The book is on my website https://barbara-miller-books.com/ or on Amazon
What was Kristallnacht or the Night of the Broken Glass? This is an excerpt from my book:
Let’s reconstruct it as best we can. It was Tuesday 6 December 1938. The German Consulate was at 419-425 Collins Street, in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. Collins Street was one of the most desired addresses in the city, and its Victorian architecture was imposing. World War 2 had not yet been declared. An elderly white-haired Aboriginal gentleman with a bushy white moustache named William Cooper made an appointment to see consular officials on 6 December at 11.30 am. However, he was just a name at that point. No doubt the Consulate would have seen the article in the The Argus newspaper on Saturday 3 December alerting them that this appointment was not so routine. The paper revealed that a deputation from the Australian Aborigines’ League (AAL) would meet with the German Consul to protest the “cruel persecution” of Jewish people and ask that they convey it to their government.
Perhaps it was a startled guard who first raised the alarm. A large group of Aborigines was fast approaching. It looked like a mob, not a deputation of two or three. They didn’t appear to have any weapons, but they were striding with purpose and getting closer. Would they try to overrun the Consulate? Bust their way inside? Damage any property? Perhaps their dark skin itself was threatening enough with Nazi Germany’s theories of the supremacy of the white race.
The tension mounted. Gruff voices. Commands. Keep them out! Lock the door! We can’t meet with a rowdy mob! No telling what might happen. Don’t take any chances!
If the Consulate had not been located in a peaceful country like Australia, would warning shots have been fired over their heads – or worse?
By now, William Cooper and the AAL were close enough that the fierce determination in their eyes could be seen. This was the only protest march the AAL ever embarked on, and it was for Jewish people in faraway Europe, not for themselves, even though they were not citizens in their own land. Having lived under racism and discrimination in Australia, they felt empathy with another persecuted group. They were cut to the core by what happened to the Jewish people and wanted it to stop. They wanted to stand up and do whatever was in their power to stop the death and persecution of Jews.
Perhaps the Aborigines were simply met with silence and locked doors that day. Closed hearts; closed minds. Or maybe they received curt orders and shouts to disperse. Maybe William Cooper knocked on the door to no avail. Did he push the AAL’s protest letter under the door or did a security guard receive it? The letter has not survived, but its contents contained the AAL resolution recorded in The Argus:
“At a meeting of the Australian Aborigines’ League, a resolution was passed voicing, on behalf of the aborigines of Australia, a strong protest against ‘the cruel persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazi Government of Germany, and asking that this persecution be brought to an end.’
A deputation of aborigines who are members of the league will wait on the German Consul on Tuesday at 11.30 a.m. to present the resolution and ask him to convey it to his Government.”
Early that morning, they had gathered at William and his wife Sarah’s Footscray home. Today it has been renovated in the style of heritage houses that dated back to the 1880s by new owners. They would like to see it made into a museum as a tribute to William Cooper’s stand. It has a white picket fence, heritage iron lacework under the roof and over the verandah and a small garden in front with green bushes. Its wooden walls are painted yellow ochre with darker yellow ochre window frames. White lace curtains decorate the front windows. It is like a spruced-up step back in time. Amazing that when William Cooper lived here, he could not afford lighting or heating. He had no gas or electricity. He wrote numerous letters to politicians and newspapers by candlelight, sitting up in bed trying to keep warm in the very cold Melbourne winters. He gathered driftwood to keep a fire burning when he could.
William formed the Australian Aborigines’ League in 1932, formalising its structure in 1935. It became the first national organisation for Indigenous people and still exists today under the name of the Aborigines Advancement League. The earliest Aboriginal organisation in Australia was set up in 1924 by Charles Fred Maynard and called the Australian Aborigines Progressive Association (AAPA). Active only until 1927 due to police harassment and internal divisions, it was, nevertheless, a notable achievement.
The Cooper home was the venue for many of the meetings of the AAL, warming themselves in winter over hot soup and sitting close to a fire as they met in the front room of the house. Candles flickered on the mantelpiece. People like Lynch Cooper, William’s son, Thomas James, Shadrach James, Doug Nicholls, Margaret Tucker, Bill and Eric Onus, Caleb and Anne Morgan and white supporters Arthur Burdeau and Helen Baillee were the regulars William and Sarah hosted. These were among the people who likely marched with William that morning to the German Consulate although the AAL did not keep a list of names of those there that day. William would also walk to meeting places as he could not afford a car or public transport. He saved his pension money for stamps for his innumerable letters. But he was a proud man and did not complain …
William probably moved the motion as he was an avid reader of newspapers and tried to keep up with news in Australia and overseas. It was approved. There would have been a passionate discussion as William told them that the Nazis had murdered 91 Jews, smashed the windows of numerous synagogues and Jewish businesses, set synagogues ablaze, and arrested thousands of Jews who they sent to concentration camps. There would have been outrage mixed with tears.”
BOOK OF THE MONTH
Farmers or Hunter-gatherers?: The Dark Emu Debate by Peter Sutton & Keryn Walshe has just been short-listed for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. This is interesting as it is a criticism of the controversial and acclaimed book called Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe. The book description on Amazon says:
An authoritative study of pre-colonial Australia that dismantles and reframes popular narratives of First Nations land management and food production.
Australians’ understanding of Aboriginal society prior to the British invasion from 1788 has been transformed since the publication of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu in 2014. It argued that classical Aboriginal society was more sophisticated than Australians had been led to believe because it resembled more closely the farming communities of Europe.
In Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe ask why Australians have been so receptive to the notion that farming represents an advance from hunting and gathering. Drawing on the knowledge of Aboriginal elders, previously not included within this discussion, and decades of anthropological scholarship, Sutton and Walshe provide extensive evidence to support their argument that classical Aboriginal society was a hunter-gatherer society and as sophisticated as the traditional European farming methods.
Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? asks Australians to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal society and culture.