Human Interest

Galarrwuy Yunupingu, influential Australian aboriginal leader, dies at 74

Sydney, Australia, Apr 3 (EFE).- Australia mourned Monday the death of Galarrwuy Yunupingu, one of the country’s most influential indigenous leaders, who fought for decades for indigenous rights and the constitutional recognition of aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. He was 74.

“Yunupingu moved between two worlds with authority, power and grace, and worked to unite them. He was a leader, a statesman, a great Yolngu (Aboriginal clan) man and a great Australian. Now he walks elsewhere, but he has left great footprints for us to follow them on this one,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Monday on Twitter.

The family reported his death Monday, but did not say when it occurred.

Yunupingu, who died in North-East Arnhem Land, a remote Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory, was a pioneer in the fight for the rights of Aboriginal people, dispossessed of their land after Cpt. James Cook declared in 1770 the east coast of the continent as “Terra nullius” (no man’s land.) This was a legal concept through which the British crown justified their colonization of Australia.

After some 10 years of activism in favor of the customary rights of his people, Yunupingu became the president of the Northern Land Council in the 1970s, a position he held for three decades. Through it, he defended aboriginal rights in Kakadu National Park, in the Northern Territory, in front of the exploitation of a uranium mine.

“Today we mourn with deep love and great sadness the passing of our beloved father Yunupingu, the keeper of our sacred fire, the leader of our clan and the maker of our future,” his daughter Binmila Yunupingu said in a statement. EFE


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