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Reproduced courtesy of Gawirrin Gumana

Yinapunapu at Garraparra

Date: 1998
Overall: 1360 × 400 mm
Medium: Natural pigments on bark
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery
Object Copyright: © Gawirrin Gumana
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00033794
Place Manufactured:Northern Territory

User Terms

    This bark painting portrays the low relief sand sculpture Yinapunapu that is located on a peninsula in Blue Mud Bay in Garraparra Saltwater Country. This sculpture is used in mortuary rituals by the Dhalwanu, Mangalili and Madarrpa clans. At the top of the painting is the capsized canoe of the ancestral hunter Yinikambu. This depiction of Yinapunapu refers to its use by the Dhalwanu clan.
    SignificanceThis bark represents the people belonging to the Yirritja moiety of the Dhalwanu clan in the homeland of Gangan. It is one of 80 barks painted by the traditional owners of East Arnhem Land in an attempt to affirm their laws, rights and stories.
    HistoryIn 1996 an illegal fishing camp was discovered at Garranali, a sacred Aboriginal area in East Arnhem Land. This 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 find instigated the local Yolnu people to begin painting a series of barks that demonstrated the rules, philosophies and stories of their region. The end result was the production of 80 barks portraying the Saltwater Country of East Arnhem Land. It was known as the Saltwater Project.

    The Yolnu's traditional lands have also encountered other threats. In 1963 a Swiss mining 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 proposed development by the mining company and Australian Government was challenged by the Yolnu in court. However their claims of land ownership were dismissed. This historic event 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

    Web title: Yinapunapu at Garraparra

    Primary title: Yinapunapu at Garraparra

    Collection title: Saltwater collection

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