The People of the Moon Bird, by Errol West


Like dust blown across the plain are the people of the Moon Bird.

And yet there is no one to teach me the songs

That bring the Moon Bird, the fish

Or any other thing that makes me what I am.”

For hundreds of years, the Palawa people, known to most as Aboriginal Tasmanians have traditionally came together to harvest the Moon Birds also known as Mutton Birds. Shay Maynard pictured here photo by Matthew Newton

The Palawa, a.k.a. Tasmanian Aboriginal people were subject to a violent campaign of eradication. As early as 1852 it was described as “a systemic massacre” by author John West (no known relation to Errol) in the book History of Tasmania. While the white people who tried to eradicate them assumed their genocide a success, Palawa people remain, much like many other people and creatures people have tried to crush.

Palawa man Errol West (no known relation to Errol West the basketball player) wrote this poem about what it felt like for him.