Yunupingu death: How did the Aboriginal rights activist die? Cause of death and obituary

Yunupingu death: How did the Aboriginal rights activist die? Cause of death and obituary

Trailblazing Aboriginal rights campaigner Yunupingu, has died in north East Arnhem Land, aged 74. Let’s see more details about  Yunupingu and his cause of death in detail.

What happened to Yunupingu?

One of Australia’s most influential Aboriginal leaders Yunupingu has died in the Northern Territory, aged 74His passing was announced in a statement by the Yothu Yindi Foundation.

.Yunupingu was a trailblazer in the fight for land rights and the constitutional recognition of Indigenous people in Australia. He died after a long illness.

Heartfelt tributes all across the country have poured in for trailblazing Aboriginal rights campaigner Yunupingu, following his death aged at age 74.

Cause of death

 He died this morning in North East Arnhem Land after a long illnessThe Gumatj clan chief was honored by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who praised him as a wonderful statesman and leader. Readers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent should be aware that Yunupingu’s family has given permission for the use of his last name and picture.

He dedicated his life to the land rights movement and improving the lives of his people. 

Yunupingu death: How did the Aboriginal rights activist die? Cause of death and obituary


The Yothu Yindi Foundation mourns the passing of Gumatj leader, Yunupingu.” “Yunupingu was a master of ceremonies and a keeper of the song lines of the Yolngu people. He held the deep backbone names of the country and the sacred knowledge of his people.

“His totems were fire, rock, and baru (saltwater crocodile) and his name means the sacred rock that stands against time. “He now walks in another place, but he has left such great footsteps for us to follow in this one.” Yunupingu rose to prominence in the land rights movement in the 1960s and was part of the first Australian legal case which tested the native title rights of First Nations people.

About Yunupingu -Aboriginal rights activist

Born on June 30, 1948, Yunupingu grew up around the small community of Yirrkala, 18 kilometers from the Northern Territory mining town of Nhulunbuy where he attended the community mission school. He was just a teenager when destiny beckoned.

Vast reserves of bauxite, a rock rich in aluminum, were discovered on the Gove Peninsula, and in 1963 the Australian Government sold off hundreds of square kilometers of land without consulting the Yolngu people. The mining rights went to a company called Nabalco which was formed to exploit the reserves.

Enraged by the selloff Yunupingu’s father Mungarrawuy and his uncle, Djalalingba Yunupingu asked him to help draft the Yirrkala Bark petitions, considered to be the founding documents of the Aboriginal land rights movement. Written in the language of the region, Yolngu Matha, and in English, the petitions asserted Aboriginal ownership over the land.

Career Life Journey

They were the first traditional documents recognized by the Australian Parliament and the first documentary recognition of Indigenous people in Australian law. In 1966 Yunupingu was sent to a Methodist bible college in Brisbane for two years to complete his education. In a personal essay entitled Rom Watangu – My Backbone – published in the July issue of The Monthly in 2016 Yunupingu recalled his time in the Queensland capital.

“Sent to Brisbane for a purpose, and that purpose was to arm ourselves with knowledge and education for the future: not just for ourselves but also for our people. And that was a lifelong commission.” He returned home to join his father and acted as an interpreter in the landmark “Gove land rights” case against Nabalco in the NT Supreme Court – it was the first time the idea of native title was argued in court.

While Yolngu lost the case in 1971, he had become a land rights leader in his own right, joining the Northern Land Council he became an advisor to Sir Edward Woodward in the Whitlam Government’s Royal Commission into Land Rights in the Northern Territory.

Yunupingu death: How did the Aboriginal rights activist die? Cause of death and obituary
Noel Pearson and Marcia Langton with Yunupingu at Garma in 2018. Credit: Melanie Faith Dove/ Yothu Yindi Foundation

Northern Territory Land Rights act was passed

In 1976 the Northern Territory Land Rights act was passed by the Federal Parliament becoming the first attempt by any Australian Government to legally recognize Aboriginal ownership over the land. More than half of the Northern Territory has been handed back to its traditional owners under this Act providing freehold title to land and allowing Aboriginal Territorians to maintain and re-establish cultural identity by establishing out stations on ancestral Country.

The Yothu Yindi Foundation described Yunupingu as, “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.” With Yolngu leaders, Yunupingu led the revival of the homeland’s movement in the 1970s and the emergence of the land rights movement throughout Australia.”

In 1977 Yunupingu was elected the first chairman of the Northern Land Council where he headed up negotiations for the establishment of the ranger uranium mine in Kakadu.

Yunupingu in his 2016 essay said:

It was disgraceful and wrong but attack the Northern Territory Government did. Year after year they ran legal cases against us, trying to stop the important work we were doing in the land councils. And when we defended ourselves, when we fought back, they punished us in different ways. There were reductions in services to our communities, the taking away or withholding of the services that had been entrusted by the Commonwealth – by the people of Australia – to the new Northern Territory Government to rightly deliver to us.

In 1978 Yunupingu was recognized for his devotion to Aboriginal rights and given one of the nation’s highest honors – Australian of the Year. In accepting the award, he delivered one of his most famous quotes: “We are at last being recognized as the Indigenous people of this country who must share in its future.’

Social Media Tribute

Karamarkos Kostas Posted

A great Australian, #Indigenousrights Yolnu activist (James G.) Yunupingu is no longer with us. He passed away at the age of 74. Yunu spent a lifetime fighting for the rights of this country’s First Nations people, from the #Yirrkalabarkpetition to the #Voice to Parliament. He won’t be forgotten! As Indigenous Labor senator #PatDodson stated recently: “His parents gave him a name… which means “the area on the horizon where the sea merges with the sky”.

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