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Open Right

John Danalis: Riding the Black Cockatoo

Session Info:

John Danalis grew up with an Aboriginal skull – fondly nicknamed Mary – on his family mantelpiece. He never questioned why it was there or to whom it belonged to, until an afternoon in 2005 when he became swept up by a compulsion to return it to its rightful owners. Over the following weeks John experienced a remarkable awakening and journeyed deep into the spiritual heart of Indigenous Australia.

Riding the Black Cockatoo (Allen & Unwin) is the extraordinary account of Mary’s return to country, and shows the transformative and healing power of true reconciliation. Within weeks of the books 2009 publication it was chosen as set text for GCSE students in Britain, placing it alongside Steinbeck’s, Of Mice and Men, and Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mocking Bird. Journey with John as he shares his experiences from the book, and those which have continued to unfold.

Topics:

  • Why weren’t we told! The victor’s version of history.
  • Media and societal stereotyping.
  • The removal of ancestral remains and the importance of repatriation to Country.
  • The painful process of overturning preconceptions and conditioning.
  • Change, and why it’s never too late.

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