The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has paid tribute to Mr J. N. Gumbula, who passed away on August 19 on Elcho Island in northeast Arnhem Land.
“Mr Gumbula was a highly respected Yolngu leader from Arnhem Land,” the Minister said.
“He was a scholar, artist and cultural ambassador whose passions contributed much to Australian art and music culture and museums around the world.
“A Milingimbi man, Mr Gumbula served his community with merit from his time as a decorated officer of the Northern Territory Police Service through to his involvement with the Galiwin’ku Community Council.
“Many Australians will know Mr Gumbula best for his award winning song writing as member of the seminal Yolngu band, Soft Sands, which was an influential precursor to Yothu Yindi and the Saltwater Band.
“Mr Gumbula was a Member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), and was a founder of the National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia.
“In recognition of his professional generosity and contributions to knowledge, the University of Sydney awarded him an honorary Doctor of Music.
“The Government extends its deepest condolences to Mr Gumbula’s family and community at this difficult time,” Minister Scullion said.
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2015-08-21 Passing of Mr Gumbula statement.pdf