Vale Mr R Wavehill Jangala

Monday, 25 May 2020

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) was saddened to hear of the passing of Mr R. Wavehill Jangala. The Institute would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the friends, family and the Gurindji community at this time.

Ronnie Wavehill was a stockman on Wave Hill Station and though he bore the name of his oppressors, he is remembered foremost as a trailblazer of Indigenous rights, truth telling and a powerful proponent of Gurindji culture.

“My grandfather was a kind and loving person. He always used to tell me Gurindji stories and songs and made sure I was pronouncing the words the proper Gurindji way”, his granddaughter Jezabel Dandy said.

“He was a real traditional, cultural man. Even though he was old, he was still helping the community with ceremony and passing on his knowledge.”

AIATSIS CEO, Craig Ritchie, said, Jangala was a proud Gurindji man whose contributions to reconciliation, rights and cultural continuity will be felt for years to come.

“Jangala’s incredible experience and talents as a storyteller have been immortalised in songs, books, recordings and the memories of his people. He will continue to be heard across generations as we continue the journey he helped us along, towards reconciliation and the cultural resurgence of First Nations Australians.”

Jangala was the main storyteller in the Aboriginal Studies Press book, Yijarni: True Stories from Gurindji Country. The book details the oppressive and brutal treatment of the Gurindji people, at the hands of pastoralists, culminating in the Wave Hill Walk off in 1966. Yijarni was launched on Freedom Day in 2016 in Kalkaringi by Senator the Hon. Pat Dodson. Senator Dodson went on to quote the book 2 years later in the Senate, to champion racial harmony and warn about the prejudices of the past, as part of the censure motion against former Senator Fraser Anning.

R Wavehill Jangala

Ronnie Wavehill Wirrpngayarri Jangala with karu (girl children) at Malyalyimalyalyi/Lipanangku (Wave Hill Station). Image courtesy of Brenda L Croft. 

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Last reviewed: 25 May 2020