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Kangkushot: The Life of Nyamal Lawman /Read, Jolly/ C/Paper/0855753412/S032-F
Aboriginal Studies Press
In his powerful and moving oral history, Nyamal lawman Peter Coppin, or Kangkushot, remembers a life of danger, drama and hardship, but also one that was significant in the movement towards social justice and social awareness for Australian society as a whole. With friend Jolly Read, Coppin also records the integral and loving relationship between the Nyamal and their country, the source of their spiritual and emotional strength, their Dreaming and their Law.
Born in a time when his people had been disinherited of their land and so their livelihood, and were forced to work on pastoral stations to earn enough food to stay alive, Coppin grew up in his own country, part of Western Australia's beautiful and isolated Pilbara. Virtual slaves in their own land, the Nyamal and the other peoples of the Pilbara worked long hard hours for meagre rations, were not paid, could not leave, and were subject to the abuse and exploitation of the white pastoralists, government agents and legislators.
But Coppin, and a few other strong and thoughtful leaders like him, dreamed of a life in which the Aboriginal people of the Pilbara were treated equitably, could receive adequate education and health services, and could control their own destinies. Twenty years before the famous Gurindji strike at Wave Hill in the Northern Territory, Coppin and hundreds of other Aboriginal people from the Pilbara led the first strike of Aboriginal workers in the nation's history in 1946. The strikers endured great hardship, physical danger, violence and threats, but they stood firm, and their bravery and determination finally forced changes that helped initiate the restoration and recognition of the basic human rights of their people.