Yolŋu means 'people'
The Yolŋu (pronounced yol-noo) people of North East Arnhem Land, in Australia’s top end, are part of the oldest living culture on the planet, with an ancestry stretching back 50,000+ years. In that time they have developed a sophisticated belief system and understanding of the environment that rivals the knowledge of the world’s great universities combined.
Trading and intermarrying with the Macassans of Indonesia since 1100-1600 AD, little was known about the Yolŋu by western culture until the 1930’s when anthropologist Donald Thomson lived with the Yolŋu, forging strong bonds and recording their way of life. In the decades that followed the Yolŋu resisted dispossession from all quarters, including missionaries and Japanese invaders during WWII.
Through it all, Yolŋu culture has remained strong, often asserting itself through creativity. as was the case with the Yirrkala Church Panels and Bark Petition, to more recently the phenomenal talents of Yothu Yindi, and East Journey. Today, the Yolŋu people continue to strengthen and share their culture, through the establishment of Lirrwi Yolŋu Tourism.
Music credit: East Journey, Guwak