Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has paid tribute to Dr Gumana AO, who passed away in Arnhem Land earlier this week.
“Dr Gumana was a senior Yolngu man and leader of the Dhalwangu clan whose many achievements spanned decades across arts, culture and Indigenous rights,” Minister Scullion said.
“He led an extraordinary life, advocating passionately for the advancement of Aboriginal people through land rights and the homelands movement.
“Following the passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 in 1977, Dr Gumara and his clan moved back to their country.
“He was instrumental in the development of his homeland Gan Gan in Arnhem Land, enabling Yolngu people to live on their traditional country.
“Dr Gumara was also a major litigant in the Blue Mud Bay decision, one of the most significant land rights cases heard before the Federal Court. The Blue Mud Bay decision found that Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory was recognised to the low water mark.
“In 2003 Dr Gumana received an Order of Australia for his service to Aboriginal art. His exquisite bark paintings have been enjoyed by people across the world, a tribute to his talent.
“Dr Gumana was the only surviving painter of the famous Yirrkala Church Panels, a historic statement of Aboriginal custodianship in Arnhem Land.”
Minister Scullion extended his deepest condolences to Dr Gumana’s family and community at this difficult time.