I published the following letter of congratulations through the Australian Anthropological Association network recently and thought to reproduce it here so non-anthropological mob could share in the cheer.
A note by way of congratulations to the Yan-nhangu traditional owners of the Crocodile Islands (NT), to their eldest ol’ lady Laurie Baymarrwanga and to NARU anthropologist Dr. Bentley James for making the finals of the Northern Territory’s 2011 Research and Innovation Awards.
Bentley was also a finalist in the ‘Indigenous Innovation Award’, while Baymarrwanga received the ‘Chair’s Special Commendation’ in the awards ceremony in recognition of her life’s work on the Crocodile Islands. Bentley and Baymarrwanga were also in the running for the ‘Tropical Knowledge Award’.
Just as exciting, as posted below, is that Baymarrwanga was recently named the ‘NT Senior Australian of the Year’. She is now in consideration for the national awards to be announced in Canberra on 25 January 2012.
This level of recognition is particularly significant at a time when there is unprecedented pressure being placed on traditional owners by the Federal Government – to leave their traditional Homeland Communities and relocate to larger townships and cities (“like the rest of uz Australians”, I was tempted to write).
You can read more about the Crocodile Island Rangers program on their website . For further information about Indigenous Rangers and similarly inspiring projects in Arnhem Land, have a peruse of the NAILSMA website.
Roll back the intervention! Stuff the ‘Stronger Futures’ policy! Long live the Homelands!