Traditional owner from Arnhem Land awarded NT Senior Australian of the Year

Laurie Baymarrwangga

Baymarrwangga, a senior traditional owner from Arnhem Land, has been awarded Northern Territory’s Senior Australian of the Year for 2012. Congratulations and a cheer for the remote Indigenous Homelands. The award brief reads as follows:

“Laurie Baymarrwangga, from the island of Murrungga, was awarded Northern Territory’s Senior Australian of the Year 2012 for her extraordinary commitment to maintaining her culture, the environment of her beloved Crocodile Islands and ensuring younger generations continue to live their heritage.

In the nine decades since her birth on the island of Murrungga, Laurie has seen the arrival of missionaries, exploitation by Japanese and European fishermen, war and tumultuous change. Undaunted, she has almost single-handedly nurtured the inter-generational transmission of local ecological knowledge through a lifelong commitment to caring for kin, culture and country.

In the 1960s Laurie established a housing project on her homelands that has benefitted generations of kin. Speaking no English, with no access to funding, resources or expertise she initiated the Yan-nhangu dictionary project. Her cultural maintenance projects include the Crocodile Islands Rangers, a junior rangers group and an online Yan-nhangu dictionary for school children.

In 2010, after a struggle stretching back to 1945, Laurie finally received back payments for rents owed to her as the land and sea owner of her father’s estate. The great, great, grandmother donated it all, around $400,000, to improve education and employment opportunities on the island and to establish a 1,000 square km turtle sanctuary on her marine estate.”

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Filed under Current social issues, Indigenous Australia, Indigenous Rights

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