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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Aboriginal elder dances with granddaughter

Gali Yalkarriwuy Gurruwiwi lives  on a remote out-station on Galiwin'ku, north-east of Arnhem Land and likes to dance.  He doesn't know his real age and doesn't speak English but when he heard that his granddaughter was about to have her Year 10 graduation ceremony in Melbourne - 3,000 kms away, he was overjoyed at having the opportunity to celebrate with her through dance. 

Sasha Mulungunhaway Yambulul and another of Gali's granddaughters Alicia, have been boarding at Worawa Aboriginal College in Healesville, north-east of Melbourne for two and a half years.

Gali said through his wife who translated for him "I am proud of my grandchildren Sasha and Alica, I am proud that this college has taken care of them and they got a good education."

But he added "They need to know who they are and where they come from" and now Sasha walks proudly in both worlds.

"I love hunting, looking for oysters and fishing and looking for mango worms and dancing traditional, we call it bunggul, that's what I miss, telling stories around the campfire" Sasha said.

So it's hats off to the founder of Worawa, Hyllus Maris, who started the college in 1983 with the aim of educating young Indigenous people while at the same time allowing them to embrace their own culture and history - no mean feat.   The girls come from 30 remote and often disadvantaged Aboriginal communities across the country.

Sasha plans to complete Year 11 and 12 at Clontarf Aboriginal College in WA and pursue a career in nursing.

Hyllus Noel Maris (1933-1986), Aboriginal rights campaigner, community worker, educator, poet and scriptwriter, was born on 25 December 1933 at Echuca, Victoria, third of nine children of New South Wales-born parents Selwyn Roderick Briggs, labourer, and his wife Geraldine Rose, née Clements. Hyllus was of Yorta Yorta and Wurundjeri (Woiworung) descent and spent her early childhood at Cummeragunja Aboriginal station, New South Wales. Her grandmother educated her in Aboriginal culture, genealogy and history, and both parents were activists; her father was also a prominent sportsman.