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Gumbuli of Ngukurr: Aboriginal Elder of Arnhem Land

Murray Seiffert
Australian Author
Gumbuli of Ngukurr: Aboriginal Elder of Arnhem Land
sneak Peek

Gumbuli of Ngukurr: Aboriginal Elder of Arnhem Land

Murray Seiffert

$49.50

Hardback
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2012 Winner Australian Christian Book of the Year!

Two stories overlap and interweave in this biography of a remarkable Aboriginal elder, Michael Gumbuli Wurramara, AM - his story and the story of the Ngukurr community in the second half of the 20th century.

Originally from the remote islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria, as a teenager, Gumbuli moved to the Roper River Mission (later known as Ngukurr) and became one of the community leaders who fought hard to achieve local decision-making when the government took over its control. Later he became the first Aboriginal Anglican priest in the Northern Territory and for over 30 years leader of the Arnhem Land Anglicans facing many challenging issues when traditional Aboriginal ways met Western culture and the Christian faith.

The other story describes the Ngukurr community in the second half of the 20th century, as it seeks its own mix of ancient and modern cultures. Along the way issues arise such as health, education, employment, economics, welfare, Stolen Generation, polygamy, alcohol and Aboriginal spirituality. The pleas of 'Why don't you ask us"' seems to fall on deaf ears in each generation.

This is an extremely readable and thought provoking book and is based on extensive interviews, observation and archival records and will challenge many assumptions about the relationships between government, missions and Aborigines.
- Publisher.

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About "Gumbuli of Ngukurr: Aboriginal Elder of Arnhem Land"

2012 Winner Australian Christian Book of the Year!

Two stories overlap and interweave in this biography of a remarkable Aboriginal elder, Michael Gumbuli Wurramara, AM - his story and the story of the Ngukurr community in the second half of the 20th century.

Originally from the remote islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria, as a teenager, Gumbuli moved to the Roper River Mission (later known as Ngukurr) and became one of the community leaders who fought hard to achieve local decision-making when the government took over its control. Later he became the first Aboriginal Anglican priest in the Northern Territory and for over 30 years leader of the Arnhem Land Anglicans facing many challenging issues when traditional Aboriginal ways met Western culture and the Christian faith.

The other story describes the Ngukurr community in the second half of the 20th century, as it seeks its own mix of ancient and modern cultures. Along the way issues arise such as health, education, employment, economics, welfare, Stolen Generation, polygamy, alcohol and Aboriginal spirituality. The pleas of 'Why don't you ask us"' seems to fall on deaf ears in each generation.

This is an extremely readable and thought provoking book and is based on extensive interviews, observation and archival records and will challenge many assumptions about the relationships between government, missions and Aborigines.
- Publisher.
- Koorong

Two stories overlap and interweave in this biography of Gumbuli. One is of Aboriginal elder, Michael Gumbuli Wurramara, who became the first Aboriginal Anglican priest in the Northern Territory and for over 30 years, leader of the Arnhem Land Anglicans and 'architect' of the Kriol Bible Translation Project. He faced many of the challenging issues arising from traditional Aboriginal ways meeting Western culture and the Christian faith. The second story describes the life of Ngukurr community in the second half of the 20th century, as it seeks to achieve a mix of ancient and modern cultures. This work is based on extensive interviews, observation and archival research. It challenges many assumptions about the relationships between government, missions and Aborigines. A collection of photographs, many of historical importance, accompanies the text.
- Publisher

Meet the Author

Murray Seiffert

Murray Seiffert's passion as a writer arises from his strong commitment to national reconciliation; also that before this can happen, non-Indigenous Australians must improve their understanding of the history and lives of Indigenous people.His training and experience as a scholar naturally lead him to a strong commitment to careful research, reported in straight-forward language. He is a fan of Karl Popper who wrote: Anyone who cannot speak [or write] simply and clearly should say nothing and continue to work until he can do so.He decided to write Gumbuli of Ngukurr: Aboriginal Elder in Arnhem Land when he realised the scarcity of material about Aboriginal people whose lives spanned the early days of European influence and who remained living in remote Australia. 'Gumbuli of Ngukurr' won the 2012 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award; it was also short-listed for the 2012 Chief Minister's Northern Territory History Book of the Year Award for 2012. Murray grew up in rural Victoria before taking degrees in agricultural science and education on the way to becoming a high school teacher. After many years at the University of Melbourne, Murray served as Academic Dean at Darwin's Nungalinya College from 2001-2006 and spending time in Arnhem Land. He found living on the college campus with Indigenous leaders from many parts of Australia was both a privilege and a learning experience. Murray used his skills as a social scientist to gather information for Gumbuli of Ngukurr. He soon realised that Gumbuli was a community leader at Ngukurr during the dramatic changes of the 1960s and 1970s. Discovering that very little had been published about those changes, he undertook extensive archival research in Darwin, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.

Table Of Contents

  • Abbreviations; The Use Of Words; Name Changes; 1. The Scene; 2. Gumbuli, The Boy From Bickerton Island; 3. Three Cultures Meet On Grooyte Eylandt; 4. Moving To Groote Eylandt; 5. World War Ii Comes To Groote Eylandt; 6. Life On Groote Eylandt; 7. The Early Days Of Roper River Mission; 8. Migrating To Arnhem Land; 9. A New Life At Roper River Mission; 10. Connecting Arnhem Land With Africa; 11. Life On The Mission - 1960s; 12. Local Leadership Grows; 13. From Roper To Ngukurr - A Period Of Turmoil; 14. The Government Takes Control.; 15. The Quest For A Distinctive Identity; 16. The 1970s: So-called 'self-determination'; Chapter17. Now The Church Belongs To Ngukurr; 18. Creating A New Harmony And Community Wellbeing; 19. Ngukurr In The 1980s; 20. More Aboriginal Church Leaders; 21. Developments Beyond Ngukkur; 22. Ngukurr Turns 90, Gumbuli Turns 60; 23. The Late 1990s; 24. Autonomy Denied, Autonomy Practised; 25. Aboriginal Pastor In Arnhem Land; 26. Ceremonies Remain An Issue; 27. An Elder Becomes An Old Man; Appendices; A. A Timeline Of The Life Of Gumbuli; B. Gumbuli And Dixie's Children; C. Gumbuli's Family Tree; D. The Child-bride Issue On Groote Eylandt In The 1930s; Acknowledgements; Photographic And Map Acknowledgements; Notes; Index.

Customer Reviews For "Gumbuli of Ngukurr: Aboriginal Elder of Arnhem Land"

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2012 Australian Christian Book of the Year
5 stars By 2012 Australian Christian Book of the Year Judges, Aug 12 2013
This is a unique and timely contribution to the story of Aboriginal engagement with western culture and Christianity and no significant consequence of this encounter has been overlooked. While not typical of the colonial experience, the story of the man Michael Gumbuli Wurramara and the place Ngukurr does, nevertheless, challenge and correct numerous popular assumptions about the relationship between government, missions and Aborigines. At times this makes for profoundly uncomfortable and provocative reading. Seiffert fearlessly incorporates a wide range of views and honestly evaluates the reliability of his sources which are many and varied. 
Gumbuli is an example of an indigenous leader emerging from the church. His appraisal of traditional beliefs, customs and ceremonies and his dialogue with Tanzanian and Ugandan Christians are fascinating. These missiological case studies are of universal interest. Gumbuli was ordained priest in 1973 and in 2010 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, 'for service to the Anglican Church of Australia through a range of pastoral care and advisory roles, as a supporter of the production of the Kriol Bible, and to the community of Ngukurr'. This singular story of indigenous protagonism, self-determination and leadership in the face of overwhelming obstacles-hostile opposition, blind ignorance and numbing indifference-maps a way forward for the peoples of this continent.
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Product Details

Product Details
  • Catalogue Code 340990
  • Product Code 9780987132925
  • ISBN 098713292X
  • EAN 9780987132925
  • Pages 440
  • Department General Books
  • Category Biography
  • Sub-Category Missions
  • Publisher Acorn Press
  • Publication Date Oct 2011
  • Sales Rank #62714
  • Dimensions 235 x 155 x 30 mm
  • Weight 0.848kg
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