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Indigenous leader Yunupingu dies, aged 74

He was an advocate for the rights of the Yolngu people

Indigenous leader and land rights pioneer Yunupingu has died, aged 74, at his home in northeast Arnhem Land.

The news was confirmed by the Yothu Yindi Foundation on Monday morning where they say Yunupingu passed peacefully, surrounded by his family and ceremonial adornments.

In a statement released by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, they say that he was “a giant of the nation” and “a pioneer of the Land Rights movement and Aboriginal rights.”

“More broadly, he spoke for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when they were voiceless, working with leaders from throughout the country to return Indigenous people to their rightful place.”

Yunupingu was born on June 20, 1948, in Gunyangara, in the Northern Territory. He would go on to become an influential leader for Indigenous people.

In 1963, he helped draft the Yirrkala Bark Petition, which was presented to the Australian Parliament and called for land rights for the Yolngu people.

In 1978, Yunupingu was named Australian of the Year and made a member of the Order of Australia in 1985 for his services to the Aboriginal community.

In 1999, he founded the Garma Festival with the help of his brother. The festival is the largest Indigenous gathering in Australia and is held in northeast Arnhem Land.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese released a statement paying tribute to Yunupingu, referring to the Gumatj leader as “A great Yolngu man. A great Australian.”

“A man who stood tall in his beloved country, and worked to lift our entire continent in the process,” he wrote.

“Yunupingu understood a fundamental truth: if you want to make your voice count, you have to make sure that it’s heard.”

Photo: Speaking at Garma 2019 by Melanie Faith Dove is available HERE. The photo has not been modified

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