p>Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon paid tribute to Mr Billy Bunter Jambajimpa who passed away at Yarralin in the Victoria River District yesterday. He was 68 years old.
THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Member for Lingiari
5 August 2011
“I was privileged to know Jambajimpa for more than 25 years. He was simply a great leader of his Walpiri, Gurindji, Mudburra, Billinara, Jaru and Ngaringman countrymen,” Mr Snowdon said.
“He was involved in important ways in all the big issues confronting his people since he was removed by truck as a boy from Yuendumu to Lajamanu (then Hooker Creek) in 1948.
“Jambajimpa played a critical role in the Wave Hill walk-off of 1966. He was the only adult in the striker’s camp who could read and write and as such was kept busy interpreting, translating, drafting correspondence as well as providing cogent advice to the Gurindji leadership under Vincent Lingiari and other prominent walk-off leaders.”
Mr Snowdon said Jambajimpa knew that to be an effective leader of his people, the skills of modern education system were as important as his traditional cultural education of which he was an acknowledged expert throughout the Victoria River region.
“I especially acknowledge his great skills as a mediator in disputes involving his people. He was regularly ‘called out’ by distant communities to sort out such disputes,” he said
Jambajimpa worked for the Australian Government in the area of indigenous economic development and for the Central Land Council in many struggles to win back land for traditional owners through the Land Rights Act (1976).
Later in his life he worked tirelessly to help make the lands won back return an economic dividend to their traditional owners. In addition he was a regular contributor to school’s cultural programs throughout the region as well as his demanding cultural and ceremonial responsibilities.
“I send my sincere sympathies to Jambajimpa’s family, and friends and indeed, to all his countrymen who were affected so positively by the life of this extraordinary Australian. The upcoming 40th Anniversary Celebrations of the Wave Hill Walk-off will be especially poignant with the loss of this great man who was such an important link with the on-going history of the Northern Territory,” Mr Snowdon said.
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