and the last Aborigines of Barrow Point. Hardcover John B Havilland with Roger Hart. Barrow Point, on the far northern coast of Queensland, Australia, was once the home of numerous Aboriginal groups. For countless centuries these indigenous people worked the sea, the rivers, and the forests, memorializing the landscape and its animals in a rich body of songs and folktales. With the arrival of Europeans during a succession of gold rushes in Queensland, however, they were driven away from their homeland. John Haviland, an American anthropologist, and Roger Hart, an elderly Barrow Point Aborigine, reconstruct some of that body of oral literature here. Hart narrates a series of stories about "Old Man Fog," who moves about the countryside talking with curlews, lizards, dingoes, foxes, and snakes, learning their ways and occasionally suffering their tricks. Many of these stories point to lessons on how the Aboriginal peoples learned how to live in this difficult country, where sources of fresh water are few and dangers many. They address ritually powerful "story places," points on the land that possess special significance. While noting the irony of the folkloric enterprise ("what were once moral tales for initiated adults have become 'fairy tales' for children's books"), Haviland provides useful commentary on Hart's stories, which shed light on the ethnography and natural history of Australia.
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