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‘The Shield and the Spear' celebrates four decades of the Kimberley Land Council

Callan Morse -

More than four decades of the Kimberley Land Council's history, struggle and knowledge has been compiled into a new illustrated book: The Shield and the Spear.

Filled with never-before-seen interviews, eyewitness accounts, and photos that tell the KLC's incredible history, the text tells the story of the organisation's 44 years as a voice for Kimberley Aboriginal people.

Kimberley Land Council was formed as a land rights organisation in 1978 after leaders from Aboriginal communities across the Kimberley met in the river bed at Malliyarn Pool in Noonkanbah.

The purpose of the meeting was to organise a cultural festival at which the KLC was officially launched.

Present-day KLC chair Anthony Watson said the book is an important record of the land-rights movement of the Kimberley region's Aboriginal people.

"A lot of our stories have been handed down orally over the years," Mr Watson said.

"The Shield and the Spear brings our stories together, in a book that we can give back to our community, with the messages and voices from our elders before us.

"Here in the Kimberley, we must remember that we are standing on the shoulders of giants. In our journey, this is going to be the first volume of many to come, as we continue to fight for a better future for Kimberley Aboriginal people."

Told through firsthand contributions from the people who were there, The Shield and the Spear shares some of the Kimberley's most historically prominent events from the last four decades.

Detailed in the text are events such as the Noonkanbah blockade in 1979, the formation of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre and the Kimberley Language Resource Centre in 1984, the formation of Magabala Books in 1987, and the controversial James Price Point gas hub dispute.

KLC chief executive Tyronne Garstone said the release of the book marked a significant moment in the organisation's history.

"The Shield and the Spear captures over four decades of struggles, challenges, protest and achievement from our leaders," Mr Garstone said.

"Today, the KLC is proud to have achieved native title recognition across 97% of the Kimberley. This book captures that for over 40 years the KLC has been consistent with the vision and values of the Traditional Owners who first fought for our land rights at Noonkanbah.

"The KLC will remember those hard-won battles, and continue to work with native title holders and Kimberley Aboriginal people to ensure their rights stay strong for generations to come."

KLC is the long-time peak Indigenous body in the Kimberley region.

The organisation works with Aboriginal people to secure native title, conduct conservation and land management activities and develop cultural & economic business enterprises.

Magabala Books editor Margaret Whiskin said The Shield and the Spear is a notable historical reference for First Nations rights in the Kimberley and abroad.

"This book is of national significance as it represents the social and cultural history of Indigenous rights and land rights in the Kimberley and Australia, "Ms Whiskin said.

"(It's) essential for all Australians to know our past and celebrate our future."

The Kimberley Land Council will officially launch the Shield and the Spear on Yawuru land in Rubibi (Broome) this week.

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