And Galarrwuy Yunupingu? He’s about to turn 70, but still keeps a sharp eye on development and is guiding every step taken. He has straddled the whole of the Northern Territory’s history of self-government, been public enemy number one, and respected elder number one, sometimes at the same time. He has hosted every prime minister since Whitlam and none claim to have bettered him.
The Gumatj clan and its leaders are etched into the DNA of the Northern Territory. From early Yolngu resistance to pastoralists in the 1930s through the campaigns against the Gove bauxite mine that led to the Land Rights Act, through Galarrwuy Yunupingu’s quarter century chairmanship of the Northern Land Council, his deceased brothers leadership of the Yirrkala School and the Yothu Yindi band, to the establishment with other Yolngu of the Dhimurru Rangers and the Garma Festival, the brilliance of the blind musician G Yunupingu, or the paintings of the Yunupingu sisters emanating from Buku Larrnggay Art Centre.