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A Stella Stories Production with Amanda Jane Reynolds (Guringai) as lead artist, 2021
Australian Museum Collection Commission
As part of the Unsettled exhibition’s role as a First Nations right of reply to the 250th anniversary of Lieutenant James Cook’s East Coast journey in 2020, the First Nations curators consulted with the descendants of the Old People on Yuin Country who were alerted to the approach of the HMB Endeavour through messages from their totems and messenger birds. They knew their Country’s history back to the Creation and megafauna eras of the giant birds and animals.
To the Old People, keeping a careful watch of the ship’s movements, the HMB Endeavour appeared to be the return of a giant pelican sailing the ocean wind currents. Also from this cultural perspective, the sailors climbing up and down the ship’s masts were seen as possums. With a sense of foreboding of what was to come, the Old People sent messengers out to warn neighbouring nations and clans of this unknown being – via envoys on foot and bird totems. Seeing the Endeavour coming close to land, they also sung up guruguma, the west wind, to blow the ship away.