10th Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture 2009

Distinguished Indigenous elder, musician and scholar, Joe Neparrŋa Gumbula, and Associate Professor Gracelyn Smallwood, from James Cook University, presented the 10th Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Casuarina campus on Saturday, August 15, 2009.

Entitled Wuŋuli Dhärranhana: Making enduring records work for Indigenous cultural survival, Dr Gumbula's lecture drew on his consummate knowledge of Yolngu law and heritage. It incorporated live traditional music performed in conjunction with women and men of his family including Lapuluŋ Dhamarrandji, Gawura Ganambarr and Dhamanydji Gaykamaŋu, and also captivating multimedia materials prepared by Dr Aaron Corn.

Associate Professor Smallwood is a Birrigubba-Kalkadoon woman from Queensland, who is recognised for her work in human rights, and Indigenous health and higher education. Her lecture was entitled Human Rights and Indigenous Culture.

The lectures were preceded by a performance of the Yanajanak song series from the Awurnbarna (Mt Borrodaile) region of north-west Arnhem Land led by the current custodian, Charlie Mangulda.

The book Exploring the Music of Yothu Yindi with Mandawuy Yunupingu, written by Dr Aaron Corn, was also be launched.

The lecture was part of CDU's Eighth Annual Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance, which brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and performers from across Australia.

About Joe Neparrŋa Gumbula

Joe Neparrŋa Gumbula is descended from a long line of prominent Yolŋu leaders whose contributions to dialogue and understanding between Indigenous and other Australians date from the 1920s, and is a foremost authority on international collections of material culture from Arnhem Land.

Dr Gumbula is best known to local Indigenous audiences as an eminent traditional musician, and a longstanding member of the seminal Yolngu band, Soft Sands. Yet over the past decade, he has also earned international renown as a leading authority on holdings of Yolngu cultural heritage in collections worldwide.

In 2007, he became the first Yolŋu leader of a research project funded by the Australian Research Council, and he currently works as a Research Fellow in Curatorial Studies at the University of Sydney.

Dr Gumbula frequently advises major state collections including Museum Victoria and the National Film and Sound Archives, and tours internationally as a director and musician with traditional companies such as the Gupapuyŋu Dancers.

He was awarded the Doctor of Music honoris causa (honorary degree) by the University of Sydney for his contributions to scholarship and intercultural exchange in 2007.

Yanajanak

Yanajanak is a songset from the Awurnbarna (Mt Borrodaile) region of north-west Arnhem Land.

It is said that the songs were originally performed by mimi spirits living in the vicinity, who taught them to humans.

They have been passed down to the current custodian, Charlie Mangulda, by his fathers and grandfathers, all members of the Amurdak – speaking Bunitj clan. Yanajanak is renowned across a wide area encompassing Arnhem Land and beyond, and its singers are in much demand for funerals and Marnurrng ceremonies.

This presentation will include performances of a selection of Yanajanak songs and related dances, as well as a brief talk discussing the songs’ origins, history and social context.