Ambelin Kwaymullina’s essay for Invisible 2 (edited by Jim C. Hines), “Colonialism, Land, and Speculative Fiction: An Indigenous Perspective,”, challenges a common science fiction theme of colonization and first contact. She was kind enough to elaborate here on looking at common science fiction themes from an indigenous perspective. You can read my review of Invisible 2 here.
I am a writer of speculative fiction. That means it is my job to look to the future. I am also an Aboriginal Australian, and that means I am all too aware of the nightmares the future could contain. My people, along with other Indigenous and colonized peoples of the globe, have lived through the great injustices and terrible violence of the colonial project. So when I hear tales of human spacefarers seeking new frontiers, my inclination is to cry out a warning to any alien peoples to run while they can. But I know, too, that there is greatness in humanity. Except I think realising that greatness requires a breadth of vision that in turn requires hearing the stories of the many diverse people of this earth.
The many barriers to diverse writers have been the subject of extensive comment in the US as part of the We Need Diverse Books campaign. I have written of some of the issues in an Australian context, and in relation to literature, I want a future that is different to the past. I particularly want an end to the misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples and the taking of Indigenous stories, and I know I am not alone in this. It is why there are many protocols and guidelines in Australia, including in relation to ethical publishing of Indigenous stories and producing Indigenous Australian writing. So I am hopeful that we are moving towards a future where all those who seek to write of other cultures and other peoples will be aware of when those stories are not theirs to tell. And I look forward to equitable collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers – for when such collaborations are based in fairness and respect, I believe there is no end to the futures we can generate together.
Ambelin Kwaymullina is an Australian Aboriginal writer and illustrator who comes from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. She is the author of the YA dystopian trilogy, The Tribe: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, The Disappearance of Ember Crow, and The Foretelling of Georgie Spider. When not writing Ambelin works at university teaching law.