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Reproduced courtesy of Warrayana Maymuru

Yindiwirryun ga Yambirrku

Date: 1998
Overall: 1450 × 820 mm
Medium: Natural pigments on bark
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery
Object Copyright: © Warrayana Maymuru
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00033793
Place Manufactured:Northern Territory

User Terms

    This bark painting from East Arnhem Land documents the Mangalili clan's claim of ownership on the saltwater country at Djarrakpi. At the centre of the painting is the sacred rock Muwandi where the ancestor of that name hunted Yambirrku, the totem parrot fish. At the top of the painting is a depiction of Yinipunayi, the sacred turtle with two depictions of the parrot fish totem below. The miny'tji (sacred clan design) in this painting refers to the saltwater and its powers of fertility.
    SignificanceThis bark is representative of the people belonging to the Yirritja moiety of the Mangalili clan in the Djarrakpi homeland. It is one of a series of 80 barks painted by the traditional owners of East Arnhem Land in an attempt to assert their ownership in the region and stop unsympathetic mining.
    HistoryThe Yolnu people inhabit a landscape that was formed by the actions of ancestral beings. The Saltwater Project was instigated in 1996 when an illegal fishing camp was discovered at Garranali, a sacred Aboriginal site in East Arnhem Land. The sacred area is home to the ancestral crocodile Bäru and found among the litter of the illegal camp was the severed head of a crocodile. This discovery prompted the Yolnu people to produce a series of bark paintings that expressed the rules, philosophies and stories of their region. The project culminated in the production of 80 barks that stressed the importance of Yolnu land ownership, laws and codes of behaviour for those who interacted with the landscape.

    The Yolnu's traditional lands have also been threatened by mining. In 1963 a Swiss company began plans to build a mine on sacred Yolnu lands. In opposition the Aboriginal community organised a petition that was signed on bark and sent to Parliament. The development proposed by the mining company and the Australian Government was challenged by the Yolnu in court. However their claims of land ownership were dismissed. This highlighted the issue of Aboriginal land rights in Australia.

    In 1976 the Aboriginal Land Rights Act was passed in the Northern Territory, now seen as the benchmark in the recognition of Aboriginal land rights. The Yolnu were decreed the legal owners of northeast Arnhem Land, however their ownership did not extend into the Saltwater coastline. Only in July 2008 have Indigenous rights and use of the Arnhem Land coast been given precedence over commercial interests and fishing. The issue of Aboriginal land rights, customs and laws continues to be contentious in the Australian legal system and wider community.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Yindiwirryun ga Yambirrku

    Web title: Yindiwirryun ga Yambirrku

    Collection title: Saltwater collection

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