"David Unaipon the man on the $50 note was a most extraordinary person. An early Aboriginal political activist, he was also a scientist, a writer, a preacher and an inventor.
In the 1920s, under contract to the University of Adelaide, he was commissioned to collect traditional Aboriginal stories from around South Australia. He also acted as a collector for the Aborigines Friends Association. Most of the stories come from his own Ngarrindjeri people, but some are from other South Australian peoples.
The stories were published in 1930 as Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals, but the author of the work was given as W. Ramsay Smith, FRS, anthropologist and Chief Medical Officer of South Australia. Unaipon s name does not appear anywhere in the book, except where he is mentioned in passing as a narrator .
In putting together this new edition of the stories Unaipon collected and transcribed, Stephen Muecke and Adam Shoemaker have undertaken a literary repatriation, restoring the text to its original form and bringing it home to its community the community to whom the stories belonged in the first place.
The descendants of David Unaipon played a piv
"My race - the Aborigines of Australia - has a vast tradition of legends, myths, and folklore stories. These, which they delight in telling to the younger members of the tribe, have been handed down orally for thousands of years. In fact, all tribal laws and customs are, first of all, told to the children of the tribe in the form of stories, just as the white Australian mother first instructs her children with nursery stories. As a full blooded member of my race I think I may claim to be the first - but I hope, not the last - to produce an enduring record of our customs, beliefs, and imaginings. DAVID UNAIPON, 1924"