Gagadju Man: Keeping his legacy alive

In 2014, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) launched the celebration of our 50th anniversary with 30 dancers, singers and ceremonial elders from Arnhem Land converging on Reconciliation Place in Canberra to witness a rare traditional ceremonial performance.

They performed a very special ceremony, a re-enactment of an ancient Aboriginal Lorrkkon Ceremony honouring Big Bill Neidjie – affectionately known as The Kakadu Man.

“Big Bill Neidjie was the keeper of ancient knowledge and the last speaker of the Gagudju language from northern Kakadu. He was instrumental in the establishment of Kakadu National Park and was deeply committed to sharing his love for his country and his culture,” Professor Dodson said.

“He was a truly great Australian and we are honoured that his family has chosen AIATSIS to hold this very special film and help continue his journey – to share his culture with all Australians.”

Led by Binninj ceremonial leader Ronald Lamilami and Yolngu ceremonial elder and Artistic Director of the event, Djakapurra Munyarryun, Lorrkkon was a multi-media performance including projected film sequences and live Ceremonial Dancers from across Arnhem Land participating in an ancient funeral rite practiced in Australia’s north for thousands of generations.

AIATSIS would like to thank Natasha Nadji, Ronald Lamilami, Djakapurra Munyarryun, Kevin Lucas, ceremonial dancers from across Arnhem Land and MusicArtsDance Films for their assistance in creating a truly memorable 50th Anniversary event.

Last reviewed: 11 Sep 2015