Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World” as Want to Read:
Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  1,034 ratings  ·  171 reviews
This remarkable book is about everything from echidnas to evolution, cosmology to cooking, sex and science and spirits to Schrödinger’s cat.

Tyson Yunkaporta looks at global systems from an Indigenous perspective. He asks how contemporary life diverges from the pattern of creation. How does this affect us? How can we do things differently?

Sand Talk provides a template for l
ebook, 256 pages
Published May 12th 2020 by HarperOne (first published September 19th 2019)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,034 ratings  ·  171 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World
Drawing upon deep understanding of indigenous traditions, Sand Talk contains the author’s personal reflections on techniques for living and learning. When other (typically white) writers offer up this kind of content, it’s usually packaged as self-help, memoir, or a blend of the two. Yunkaporta’s approach is different, based on ‘yarning’ and, for me at least, this makes the material so much more accessible than those other genres. Sand Talk includes plenty of personal anecdotes, but as a whole i ...more
Jim Rimmer
Reading Tyson's book is like dropping a mentos into a bottle of coke. That coke is never going to be the same again.

I'd recommend taking this book as slow as you need to really get a handle on the many concepts covered.

Also, pass it forward. Once you've finished give this as a gift to a friend or loved one or local politician. Help get this genie out of the bottle.
Pat (not getting friend updates currently)
Tyson Yunkaporta examines ways of using Indigenous Australian knowledge to gain wisdom and a better understanding of how the world works. He provides ides for different thinking about the inter-connectedness of everything and suggests how contemporary living endangers the natural order of things.

It is a very philosophical book written with a lot of heart but if you don’t come at it from a position of respect for this ancient culture it will not be an easy read. There is some wonderful knowledge
Text Publishing
The following book reviews have been shared by Text Publishing – publisher of Sand Talk

'It was certainty that drove a bulldozer through the oldest and deepest philosophic statement on earth at Burrup Peninsula. Sand Talk offers no certainties and Tyson Yunkaporta is not a bulldozer driver. This is a book of cultural and philosophic intrigue. Read it.’
Bruce Pascoe

‘An extraordinary invitation into the world of the Dreaming… Unheralded.’
Melissa Lucashenko

‘A familiar Indigenous sense of humour and
Michael Livingston
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an awful lot to take in. It's accessible written, but Yunkaporta challenges the fundamental ways in which most of us see the world. I bristled against parts of this, especially the sections on gender, but found so much of it hugely compelling. Everyone should read it. ...more
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To see more reviews check out MI Book Reviews.

I got an ARC of this book.

Let me preface this with I am white. I have no idea what my actual genetic make-up is or even a family history beyond that of my parents and most of my grandparents. Some of the ideas in this book are so drastically against what I have been taught that they are difficult to approach and others worked so well they had me reexamining my life immediately. So expect an even more Isaiah review than normal.

This is not a traditiona
Zarathustra Goertzel
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Tyson Yunkaporta seems to have grown up at the chaotic edge of Settler's Australia and Indigenous Australia, which perhaps places him in a position to comment on inter-perspectival understanding.

Note: according to his culture he can speak 'of' aboriginal life and history but he cannot speak 'for' it.

He appears to make some effort to consult elders, primitivists, feminists, and other compatriots when their wisdom is needed.


How does he think Indigenous folk will view the current global civiliza
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
‘Sand Talk’ is a unique book, a collection of philosophical musing by Indigenous author Tyson Yunkaporta, that both delights and intrigues.
Using the Aboriginal custom of drawing images on the ground to bring clarity of thought, the author uses patterns, symbols and shapes to make sense of the world.
An extraordinary glimpse into the profound wisdom and gift of Indigenous culture and perspective, an essential read to broaden the mind.
‘Sand Talk' explores global systems from an Indigenous perspec
Keira Scuro
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is extraordinary.

I've never read a book that actually challenged the internal workings of my brain. I just kept turning the pages and new ideas jumped into my mind one after the other. I need to read it again slowly, with a highlighter pen, and take proper notes.

Every chapter covers a different topic, and each topic is presented from a perspective I've never thought of, or heard anyone else talk about. It makes me feel like we are missing out on so much by not having this profound, b
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
A book on this topic needed to be written and I'm really glad it has been, but I'm not sure this will resonate quite the same way that say Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu has. With my white western education, I found it hard work to make sense of the author's message due to his writing style, but then again that is part of the reason for writing and needing the book. It's one that requires a few re-reads and much thinking. ...more
Bernie Gourley
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book does a good job of showing that there are fundamental differences in philosophy, worldview, and perspective between indigenous / aboriginal peoples and the rest of the world. It’s fair to say that differences exist between any two different cultures, but the argument is that these are deeper and more profound. Said differences run from how one visualizes abstractions to how one views and interacts with nature to one’s go-to pronouns.

What the book does not do, not by any means, is hono
Craig Werner
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Overcame my resistance to Yunkaporta's tendency to generalize--not always accurately--about the nature of "Western" thinking in part because he's got a good sense of humor about it and owns some of his simplifications as simplifications.

As long as you can get past that, this is a great, important book, which flips the usual treatment of indigenous (in this case aboriginal) thought to focus on what that tradition can tell the outside world about itself rather than serving up touristy tidbits.

This is a difficult book to rate and perhaps it's one I need to reread. Many of the concepts just don't come naturally to the way my brain thinks.
In indigenous culture people were only entrusted with deeper learning once they were assessed to be ready for it and that could take some time. I suspect in my case, it certainly will take some time.
Some of the authors more radical ideas, he admits himself, are a bit playful and tongue-in-cheek.
But an interesting read nonetheless.
Will borrow from the
Gill Hutchison
Sep 12, 2019 rated it liked it
So jam packed with ideas that my brain exploded on page 50 and I had to put it down. I just couldn't find the rhythm of his voice. ...more
Teo 2050

Jim Rutt urged his podcast listeners to read this or he’d kick our ass, so I guess I’m safe now.

This book is meant to be an indigenous thinking perspective on global issues, especially sustainability.

It definitely contains a lot of food for thought for anyone who’s only ever experienced the world with e.g. Western(ized) eyes.

I didn’t gain much new tools from the spirit stuff, but I appreciated the emphasis on haptic cognition, stories, metaphors, analogies, mnemonic devices,
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Deeply powerful and re-orientating. One of the most important books I've read. ...more
Dion Perry
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is an extraordinary look into the way one Aboriginal views Western culture and governance through the lens of Indigenous culture, lore and law. The book starts with a hook, but then seemed to slow down to the point that I may have considered the introduction to be long-winded. I say may, because as I read on, I came to realise that the introduction wasn’t long-winded, I was simply being impatient.

Using an unusual method from my perspective, the author explores what many may consider to
Milly McMurray
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
At the risk of being hyperbolic, this is the that book has had the most profound influence on my thinking in my adult life so far.
This book offers "Indigenous Knowledge solutions to the crisis of civilisation." and advises that "If you don't move with the land, the land will move you."
I feel privileged to be offered access to such knowledge.
Read this book!
Corey Flynn
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So far my favourite sentence ever:

Maybe they will, if they tire of the incompetence of domesticated humans.
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
please read this book
Sandra The Old Woman in a Van
This was a tough book to read because the style and message are hard for me to follow. But I appreciated the book much more after a book club discussion. There is a LOT to unpack here. I may read it again.
Amber Erasmus
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mick D
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
The tangential philosophical conversational style, was a bit of a mirror into my own style of rambling. Some beautiful insights into indigenous ways, the logic resonates at a bodily level, shame that it's hard to be optimistic that we might actually listen. Be good to track down Tyson for a yarn. ...more
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ignore the possibly overblown subtitle. This book is worth your time.
The audiobook is read by the author, whose gentle humor shines through in that rendition.
The text itself is an intriguing look at the different assumptions the author sees in various people and peoples and a call to action to create a better world by changing the ways in which we see the world.
Natasha (jouljet)
A missive and a teaching, and a generous sharing, and tale of searching and discovery. Tyson outlines Indigenous thinking like I have never come across before. Tying together Elders knowledge, and relating it to new readers and new curious listeners.

Tyson has gathered wisdom and experiences, through travel, and yarning, and listening, and then creating his own symbolism to explain. He challenges science, or rather relates scientific theories in ways that lend itself back to land, cycles of life,
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book on its release i was so keen to read it and made 14 notes inside the back cover so i could readily find the pithy insights and anecdotes this book brims with; insights like why every big city in history has eventually fallen; that many rocks are sentient, as evidenced by accounts of regretful tourists who took rocks from Uluru over many decades, eventually returning them with reports of weird happenings including ghostly visitations in their lives; and, in the author's world, ...more
John Barrington
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
I am pleased to have read sand talk and found some of the insights into the ways of thinking both enlightening and valuable. There is so much we can learn from Aboriginal thinking and I was expecting more from this text.
Yunkaporta’s summing up with the four stages of Respect, Connect, Reflect, Direct is both useful and powerful. It is a pity that deep indigenous insights cannot be shared given the constraints of secret business and such restrictions may make the cover claim of ‘how indigenous th
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
5 stars for the way the author opens your mind and weaves his thoughts; 3 stars for the actual arguments. I loved his principle themes in some chapters, yet found myself in strong disagreement of others. Even with my differing views, I can solidly say that you will be rewarded if you approach this book as a student and are willing to evaluate your own opinions.
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's been a long time since I read a book that gave me this much to think about. At a time when I'm actively questioning in my life vaunted cornerstones of "Western", "rational" thought, this book has provided me with dozens of branching paths and different ideas to consider.

There's so much I have to learn.

Friends, read this too. I want to chat about it.
Apr 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
As Clare Land wrote in Decolonizing Solidarity (2015, p84) "one of the most powerful expressions of a colonial mindset is to establish and police a sharp divide between `Indigenous' and `non-Indigenous'". This book is a perfect example.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Blurb missing 2 15 Jul 25, 2019 09:23AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Fire Country
  • Salt: Selected Essays and Stories
  • The Yield
  • Dark Emu
  • Jack Charles: Born-again Blakfella
  • Australia Day
  • The Living Sea of Waking Dreams
  • After Australia
  • Throat
  • Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark
  • Songspirals: Sharing women's wisdom of Country through songlines
  • Permanent Record
  • The Animals in That Country
  • See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Violence
  • Talkin' Up to the White Woman: Indigenous Women and Feminism
  • Truganini
  • A River with a City Problem: A History of Brisbane Floods
  • The Future Keepers
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Tyson Yunkaporta is an academic, an arts critic, and a researcher who is a member of the Apalech Clan in far north Queensland. He carves traditional tools and weapons and also works as a senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at Deakin University in Melbourne. He lives in Melbourne.

Related Articles

You’d never know it from reading the books listed here, but good science writing is incredibly difficult to pull off. There is both an art...
103 likes · 7 comments
“an Indigenous person is a member of a community retaining memories of life lived sustainably on a land base, as part of that land base.” 1 likes
“If people are laughing, they are learning. True learning is a joy because it is an act of creation.” 0 likes
More quotes…