This essay explores the meaning of home in the 2006 film Ten Canoes. The film resulted from an extraordinary collaboration between the Ramingining Aboriginal community of northeastern Arnhem Land and Australian art-house director Rolf de Heer. It tells of Dayindi (Jamie Dayindi Gulpilil Dalaithngu), a young Yolngu man living one thousand years ago, who is in love with his elder brother's youngest wife. To correct Dayindi's “wrong feelings,” his brother tells him another story that we also witness in the film, this one set tens of thousands of years in the ancient past. The essay argues that simply articulating the film's twists in the logic of Western cinematic storytelling renders it richly suggestive of traditional Yolngu law, a process that in turn reveals the Ramingining community's commentary on the complex racial politics of the contemporary Australian “homeland.”

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.