AUTHORS Uncle Roy Henry Patterson and Dr Jennifer Jones’ Taungurung cultural memoir was celebrated at a book launch last month.
On Taungurung Land: Sharing History and Culture draws upon Taungurung oral knowledge and an unusually rich historical record to examine how people of the Taungurung Nation of central Victoria preserved their culture in the face of white settlement and negotiated to retain possession of their country.
The book was launched by Dr Jones and Murrindindi Shire Mayor Sandice McAulay at the Alexandra Library, which she described as a ‘truly joyous occasion.’
Mr Patterson, who shared generational knowledge for the book, died in 2017, but Dr Jones and Mr Patterson’s daughter, granddaughter, and three great-grandchildren attended the launch in his place.
“As his family and Dr Jones agreed, he would have been very proud to have stood with us for the launch of this important work,” Cr McAulay said.
“Uncle Roy wanted to ensure his knowledge wasn’t lost to us, and I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Dr Jones for this wonderful and informative book. I feel richer for having read it.”
Dr Jones and Mr Patterson Uncle Roy spent months gathering stories and making recordings before writing the book.
They visited Aboriginal places of importance in the surrounding area and studied the taste and medicinal effects of Indigenous Australian foods, known as bush tucker.
“This memoir is significant as it plays an important role in preserving and sharing the knowledge of locally available bush tucker, bush medicine and local Indigenous culture and history of the Taungurung people,” Cr McAulay said.
“It is also a wonderful homage to a man who was so keen to share his culture and respect for this land.
“Uncle Roy wanted to revive and strengthen Taungurung cultural ways and for this knowledge to instil wider respect for Taungurung … values.
“At council, we think of this memoir as an important means by which we can pay our respect to traditional owners of the land on which we live and work.”
Council was approached in 2016 to support the authors’ grant application for support from the State Government’s Local History Grants Program.
“I encourage you all to read this important and fascinating book and learn more about where we live from one of our local Indigenous Elders, the irreplaceable Uncle Roy Patterson,” Cr McAulay said.
People can borrow the book from Murrindindi libraries, buy it online, or read an e-version for free by visiting press.anu.edu.au and searching for ‘Taungurung’.