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Yorta Yorta

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Yorta Yorta

The Yorta Yorta are an indigenous Australian people who have traditionally inhabited the area surrounding the junction of the Goulburn and Murray Rivers in present-day north-eastern Victoria and southern New South Wales. The Yorta Yorta comprises a number of separate family groups, which include the Bangerang, Kailtheban, Wollithiga, Moira, Ulupna, Kwat Kwat, Yalaba Yalaba, and Ngurai-illiam-wurrung. Their language is the Yorta Yorta language.


Native title claim

In a Native title claim submitted in 1995 by the Yorta Yorta people, it was determined by Justice Olney in 1998 that the "tide of history" had "washed away" any real acknowledgement of traditional laws and any real observance of traditional customs by the applicants. An appeal was made to the full bench of the Federal Court on the grounds that "the trial judge erroneously adopted a ‘frozen in time’ approach" and "failed to give sufficient recognition to the capacity of traditional laws and customs to adapt to changed circumstances". The Appeal was dismissed in a majority 2 to 1 decision. The case was taken on appeal to the High Court of Australia but also dismissed in a 5 to 2 majority ruling in December 2002.

In consequence of the failed native title claim, in May 2004 the Victorian State Government led by Premier Steve Bracks signed an historic co-operative management agreement with the Yorta Yorta people covering public land, rivers and lakes in north-central Victoria. The agreement gives the Yorta Yorta people a say in the management of traditional country including the Barmah State Park, Barmah State Forest, Kow Swamp and public land along the Murray and Goulburn rivers. Ultimate decision making responsibility was retained by the Environment Minister

Prominent people

  • Adam Briggs, hip-hop artist.
  • William Cooper (1861–1941), helped establish the Australian Aborigines' League in 1935. He led the first Aboriginal deputation to a Commonwealth minister, and another to protest the treatment of German Jews in 1938. His daughter, Amy Charles, was the matron of the first Aboriginal hostel established in Melbourne. In August 2010, the Yad VaShem Holocaust museum in Israel announced they would honor William for his protests on behalf of Jews after Kristallnacht. Yad Vashem plans to endow a small garden at its entrance in Cooper's honor. Cooper's name was submitted for recognition when it was discovered that Cooper's rally was the 1938 Only known private protest against Kristallnacht: Australian Aborigines League, led by William Cooper.
  • Jimmy Little (OAM) (1937–2012) was a musician whose career has spanned over six decades. His was the first song written and recorded by indigenous Australians in 1958: "Give the Coloured Boy a Chance" (written by Jimmy Little, Snr, and recorded by Jimmy Little). He was the first indigenous Australian entertainer to appear on television: Jimmy Little in 1999, ARIA inducted Little into its Hall of Fame.
  • Sir Douglas Nicholls (1906–1988) was a professional athlete, pastor with the Churches of Christ, pioneering campaigner for Aboriginal reconciliation, the first Aboriginal person to be knighted, and the 1976 first indigenous Australian to hold vice-regal office (Governor of South Australia), serving as Governor of South Australia 1976 to 1977. In 1935, he became the first indigenous Australian to be selected in the Victorian interstate Australian rules team.
  • Burnum Burnum (1936–1997) was an activist, actor and author.
  • Eric Onus played an active role both politically and socially among Victorian aboriginal people. He was also a founding member of the Australian Aboriginal League established by William Cooper in the mid-1930s.
  • William Townsend Onus (15 November 1906 – 10 January 1968), known as Bill Onus, was an Aboriginal Australian political activist.
  • William McLintock Onus Jr (Lin Onus AM) (4 December 1948 – 23 October 1996) was born Lin Burralung McLintock Onus, his father was a political activist and businessman, Bill Onus. His father became the founder of the Aboriginal Advancement League and the first aboriginal Justice of the Peace, dying in 1968, a year after the fruits of a long campaign, the referendum giving Aborigines the right to vote. Onus was a largely self-taught urban artist who began as a motor mechanic before making artifacts for the tourist market with his father's business, Aboriginal Enterprise Novelties.
  • John Thomas Patten (27 March 1905 – 12 October 1957), known as Jack Patten, was a professional boxer, civil rights activist, war veteran, and writer. He is remembered for being president and co-founder of the Aborigines Progressive Association, leading the first delegation of aboriginal people to meet with a serving prime minister, organising the 1938 Day of Mourning conference, writing and editing the first aboriginal newspaper, The Australian Abo Call, initiating the Cummeragunja Walk-Off in 1939, and for leading the campaign which led to aboriginal people being able to legally serve in the Australian military.
  • John Trevor Patten (born 13 June 1936), Australian bantamweight boxing champion between 1958 and 1962.
  • Wes Patten (born 17 February 1974), actor, television host, and former NRL player with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, St. George Dragons, Balmain Tigers and Gold Coast Chargers. Roles in television and film include playing opposite Cate Blanchett in Heartland (1994) and Hugo Weaving in Dirtwater Dynasty (1988). Other roles include stints on A Country Practice, Wills & Burke, and G. P..
  • Margaret Tucker, a civil rights activist and writer, she is known for her part in the 1938 Day of Mourning conference, efforts in fighting for the rights of Aboriginal people, and for having been the first Aboriginal person to have a published autobiography. She was also a musician who sung at social occasions raising funds for war efforts.
  • David Wirrpanda, former AFL player with the West Coast Eagles, known for his community work in helping to improve the lives of young indigenous Australians. The David Wirrpanda Foundation was launched in 2005. He was named the 9th most influential Aboriginal Australian by The Bulletin magazine on 30 November 2007.
  • Margaret Wirrpanda, an activist; niece of Margaret Tucker, mother to David Wirrpanda.
  • Andrew Walker, a current AFL player with the Carlton Football Club. He is a number two draft pick overall (2003 National Draft) and took one of the contenders for "Mark of the Year" in 2011. Andrew has indigenous Australian heritage and his tribal ancestry can be traced to the Yorta Yorta. He played his early career in country football and represented Bendigo in the TAC Cup before catching the eye of talent scouts. He was educated at Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne, Victoria, and graduated in 2004. In round 18 of 2011 against Essendon, Walker took a huge specky over Essendon player Jake Carlisle, which was considered by many football observers, including The Age's Rohan Connolly, and both match-day coaches, Brett Ratten and James Hird, to be one of the greatest marks of all-time — although ultimately it did not win the season's Mark of the Year award. He was awarded life membership of the Carlton Football Club in December 2011.
  • Music

    The track "Ngarra Burra Ferra" sung by indigenous artist Jessica Mauboy, from the 2012 hit film The Sapphires, is a song based on the traditional Aboriginal hymn "Bura Fera". The song is in the Yorta Yorta language and speaks of God's help in decimating Pharaoh's armies. The chorus, "Ngara burra ferra yumini yala yala", translates into English as "The Lord God drowned all Pharaoh's armies, hallelujah!" These lyrics are based on an ancient song in Jewish tradition known as the "Song of the Sea" from the Book of Exodus. Aboriginal communities of Victoria and southern New South Wales may be the only people in the world who still sing the piece (in Yorta Yorta).


    Yorta Yorta Wikipedia

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