Publication Date



Jonathon Lear and Noel Pearson suggest radical hope to be the force impelling Native American and Australian Aboriginal peoples to endure crises of dramatic change. Positioned at best as subjects, at worst as victims, Aboriginal protagonists are portrayed throughout history to turn simply and stoically towards unknowable, compromised futures. ‘I shall surprise you by my will’, Romaine Moreton asserts with measured force. Her poem offers a frame through which to review Aboriginal peoples’ conscious acts for calculated outcomes, and to reassess altered ways of being not as compromises to unchangeable pasts, but assertions of Aboriginal agency with a view to shared futures: recognising Kulin as active treating partners negotiating pragmatic recompense with John Batman in 1835, being able to grasp Truganini's shell threads as they continue to weave through history, seeing the fluidity of post-contact environments revealed in a Yolngu metaphor, where both Yolngu and Balanda may thrive, Samson and Delilah, propelled by will, relocate to a place where they are agents for their own futures. Past acts rise out of the melding of hope and will. Present depictions represent perpetual capacity for change.


Institute for Social Justice

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

Access may be restricted.