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Maralinga : the An̲angu story by Yalata…

Maralinga : the An̲angu story (2009)

by Yalata Aboriginal Community.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
191809,998 (4.5)1
Anangu history from Anangu perspective; story of the land and importance of water; story of two brothers Makuru and Arunya; collecting bush tucker; disruption of Anangu way of life by invasion; impact of the construction of the Transcontinental Railway; Daisy Bates; life at the mission, lack of work; 1946 planning for weapons testing in the area; closure of the mission; extracts from people's evidence at the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests telling of their bad experiences at that time of being moved from Ooldea to Yalata; groups were still living inside the prohibited zone at Wanna Lakes, near Maralinga and Lake Wyola; effects of Operation Totem in 1953 and the black mist at Wallatinna which followed; effects on health and deaths which followed the black mist; story of Yami Lester who was blinded by the black mist; Operation Buffalo on 27 September 1956; Operation Antler finishing on 9 October 1957; Minor Trials were conducted between 1953 and 1963; story of the illnesses and early deaths experienced by the Milpuddie family; clean up operations and fencing and patrolling against possibly 24000 years of hazard from plutonium; life at Yalata, memories of country, homesick for country, memories of the bombs; salvage rights at Maralinga granted in 1974 to Yalata Community with assurances there was no cause for concern; Aboriginal men were not given protective gear for this work whereas whitefellas had masks and protective clothing; land rights at Maralinga; British payment for clean-up and compensation in 1995; Anangu today… (more)



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British nuclear tests occurred at Maralinga in South Australia between 1955 and 1963. Seven nuclear tests were performed, with approximate yields ranging from 1 to 27 kilotons of TNT equivalent, as well as many 'minor' tests. The site was contaminated with radioactive materials and an initial cleanup was attempted in 1967. The An̲angu people whose traditional land it is are rarely mentioned except in passing in conversations about the tests, though they did receive compensation from the Australian government in 1994.

This book tells their story. It begins well before their country was deemed to be a good place to test nuclear devices (putting the lie to a rerun of terra nullius, you might say) and brings us up to the slow rebuilding of communities in the present. It begins: 'Long time ago, before whitefellas came, Anangu lived on their lands for thousands and thousands of years.'

Many non-Indigenous people are likely to think of this book as worthy, an excellent addition to a school library, but not exactly something to rush out and buy. But you know, it's also a book that changes the way you see the world, and leaves you in awe of human beings, both the resilient ones who have come through a hundred years of brutal disregard, and the one who has sat down and listened deeply enough to bring their stories to us. ( )
  shawjonathan | Apr 22, 2012 |
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