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Galarrwuy YunupinguAM (born 30 June 1948) is a leader in the Australian Indigenous community, and has been involved in the fight for Land Rights throughout his career. He was named the 1978 Australian of the Yearmarker, jointly with Alan Bond.

He was born at Melville Bay near Yirrkalamarker on 30 June 1948, and is a member of the Gumatj clan of the Yolngu people.

He attended the Mission School at Yirrkalamarker in his formative years, and moved to Brisbanemarker to study at the Methodist Bible College for two years, returning to Gove in 1967.

In the early 1960s, with his father, Gumatj clan leader Mungurrawuy, he entered the struggle for Land Rights, and helped draw up the Bark Petition at Yirrkalamarker. He came to national attention in the late 1960s for his role in the landmark, but unsuccessful Gove Land Rights Case. This legal action was the first by Indigenous Australians to challenge mining companies' rights to exploit traditional lands. He became a prominent leader and strong voice on behalf of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territorymarker and Australia, gaining respect and admiration from many. In 1969 he was elected to the Yirrkalamarker town council.

In 1975 he joined the Northern Land Council (NLC), the authority appointed under the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976 to represent traditional Aboriginal landowners and Aboriginal people. He was chairman of the NLC from 1977-1980, an executive member until 1983 when he was re-elected as chairman. He has led a number of negotiations with mining and government bodies.

As chair of the NLC, he led the Gagudju people in negotiations with mining and government bodies. Not opposed to mining in principle, Yunupingu sees it as a way for Aboriginal people to escape the welfare trap if it is conducted on the traditional owners' terms. These include a fair distribution of the economic benefits and respect for the land and specific sacred sites. He said: 'We will continue to fight for the right to make our own decisions about our own land.'

In 1978 he was named Australian of the Yearmarker for his negotiations on the Ranger uranium minemarker agreement. He said the award 'would help him to shake off the image of ratbag and radical' and would give him 'greater strength as an individual and as a leader'. It was also a recognition for Aboriginal people as 'the indigenous people of this country who must share in its future'.

In 1985, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to the Aboriginal community. Galarrwuy Yunupingu is one of 100 "Australian Living National Treasures" selected by the National Trust of Australia as leaders in society "considered to have a great influence over our environment because of the standards and examples they set".

He lives near Yirrkala and is a senior ceremonial leader. He continues to hold numerous positions on committees and organisations where he can share his wide experience with other Australians and promote the aspirations of his people.


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