- Jun 1, 2004
May 28, 2004
Djerrkura, 54, Who Led Aboriginal Rights Group, Dies
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ANBERRA, Australia, May 27 — Djerrkura, a prominent Aboriginal leader who was born into traditional tribal life in northern Australia and rose to lead an elected indigenous group that helped allocate government funds, died on Wednesday at his community in Arnhem Land, east of the port city of Darwin. He was 54.
The cause was a heart attack, Australian officials announced.
His clan asked the news media to honor Aboriginal tribal culture and not print his first name or pictures of him after his death.
Mr. Djerrkura straddled the worlds of traditional Aboriginal culture and national politics. He always kept a spear by his door to protect his family at times of tribal tensions.
By birthright, he became a leader of the Wangurri clan in Arnhem Land in far northern Australia, where Aborigines live by their ancient traditions and rituals.
In 1996, by a federal government decree, he was appointed chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, an elected council established in the 1980's as a means of self-determination for indigenous people.
The conservative government chose Mr. Djerrkura from among 17 commissioners democratically elected by their Aboriginal constituents. He led the organization for three years.
Ann Popplestone AAB, BA, MA
CCC Metro TLC
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