Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion has paid tribute to Ms C Wulumirr Daniels OAM, a revered Ngukurr community leader and Indigenous pioneer, who passed away at the weekend.
“My heart goes out to the family of Ms Daniels and the Ngukurr community she leaves behind too soon,” Minister Scullion said.
“When people think of Ngukurr, they think of Ms Daniels – such was the effect she had. Her impact was as large as her heart and as deep as her desire for change.”
Ms Daniels received an Order of Australia in 2016 for her service to the Indigenous community of the Northern Territory – a moment she chose to share and celebrate with those closest to her.
“Ngukurr was as much a part of Ms Daniels as she was part of Ngukurr,” Minister Scullion said.
“She dedicated her life to the advancement of her people and fought to maintain their identity and further their interests.”
Ms Daniels founded an Indigenous rangers group for women in the mid-1990s as well as the Yugul Mangi Rangers in 1999. Ms Daniels was also instrumental in pushing for the establishment of the South Eastern Arnhem Land Indigenous Protected Area, which was declared in September 2016.
Also in 1999, she established the Ngukurr Language Centre to preserve the traditional languages of her community. Her passion for language was evident at a young age when she successfully overcame a ban on speaking her traditional Ngandi language at school as a child.
“Ms Daniels was one of the last fluent speakers of the endangered Ngandi language and through her work at the language centre, she laid the foundations for the next generation to gain knowledge and take pride in language and culture,” Minister Scullion said.
“She was a pioneer and a visionary – not only for her desire to protect country and foster peoples’ livelihoods through employment, but for her work to safeguard her traditional dialect and ensure a significant part of her culture and heritage was not lost.
“Ms Daniels forged a path throughout her life that will be followed for decades to come. She set a standard to aspire to and a left a legacy worthy of emulation.
“We stand together with Indigenous communities across the Northern Territory and mourn the loss of a truly inspirational leader and woman in Ms Daniels. May she forever rest in peace.”