Title: Yami: The Autobiography of Yami Lester
Author: Yami Lester
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Biographies, Indigenous Australians
Publisher: Jukurrpa Books
5th sentence, 74th page: Tjitji kungkatja.
This is Yami Lester’s story: from stockman to stirrer. Beginning in the heart of the Western Desert, Yami tells of his early years learning the country and the Law from the Ones Who Know. Of his years as a stockman, learning his trade on the vast, unfenced cattle stations of the Centre. Of this years living in the world of white people. And of the childhood memories stirred by a voice on the radio – memories of the day when the ground shook and a black mist came up from the south and covered the camp. Of the sickness that followed, and the blindness that changed his life for ever. Yami’s is a unique life of challenge and change, courage and humour. From the remote Centralian outback to the handback of Uluru, from bomb tests at Maralinga to the Royal Commission in London, Yami’s memories are aout the making of modern Australian history.
It was suggested that I read this because of my course in Indigenous Australians in environmental management and my interest in what our First Nation people have experienced. And let me tell you, I am so incredibly glad that I did. This story is just awe inspiring and fascinating. It not only entails part of our history, but also shows the strength, compassion and drive of people who have, quite frankly, not been treated as they should have been.
If you’re interested in Australian history, and more specifically, Indigenous history, this is certainly a book that is worth reading. I was kind of expecting a story that highlighted all of the many negative things that happened when white man decided to declare terra nullius, but this story was nothing like that. Yami’s love for the country and his people is clear. His experiences are told across the board and there is this really beautiful hope and care for the country and its people. All of its people.
The main reason that I decided to buy this story was because of Yami’s presence during the Maralinga bombings. What I didn’t realise was that he was instrumental in the fight to find out what truly happened there. Actually, he was very involved in a few moments in our past that I hadn’t expected – land rights movements, Indigenous education and health… he fought for a lot of things and, in many cases, he succeeded (or at least, he did mostly).
Yami takes you on an adventure through his life. Starting with the early years in central Australia and his work as a stockman, he took me on a journey through his life. One that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
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