Magabala Books was born out of a traditional Aboriginal song and dance festival held in September 1984 at Ngumpan near Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Here it was decided that an organisation be established that was firmly rooted in Aboriginal law and culture—
the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC). KALACC was to be run by Aboriginal leaders and one of its aims was to protect the rights of traditional storytellers and artists.
This aim led to the establishment of KALACC’s publishing arm and in 1987 Magabala Books published its first title, Mayi: Some Bushfruits of the West Kimberley by Merrilee Lands.
Wandering Girl, the highly acclaimed autobiography by Glenyse Ward, soon followed.
In March 1990 Magabala Books became an independent Aboriginal Corporation with the objective
of restoring, preserving and maintaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures by:
- Recording, promoting and publishing a body of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.
- Assisting and encouraging people to pass on their history.
- Making the wider community aware of the wealth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tradition and culture.
- Protecting and educating in matters of copyright.
- Promoting acknowledgment of and respect for Indigenous culture through the use of published works and through electronic media.
- Providing employment and training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.