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>> 50th Freedom Day Festival - The Gurindji Wave Hill Walk Off [ Speech ]

This is my message to the Gurindji community at the 50th Freedom Day Festival. Artist, Brenda Croft, kindly read this message at the venue.


Hello, everyone, I am Yuki Hokari, Mino’s sister — Japarta’s sister, Nimarra.

Congratulations to you all on the 50th anniversary of the Gurindji Walk-Off. Twelve years after Mino’s passing, I know for certain that he is there with you today.

I wonder if you know that in 1996 Mino had sent letters to 10 different communities asking for permission to visit. Seven communities ignored his applications; two rejected them. The only community that approved his request was the Gurindji country. Old Jimmy told Mino: “Country brought you here.”

Mino knew that it was his mission to tell the world about the Gurindji stories and teachings. He wrote in his book:

In Canberra, Greg Dening once advised me not to write a thesis for three examiners, but to write a book to change the world. This may be what the Gurindji elders expect me to do. All I know is that the Gurindji people spent a lot of time with me — and this is not because they were dedicated to my academic career. They perceived me to be a person who could bring their stories to a wider audience.

Only a few days before his passing in 2003, he finished writing the Japanese version of the book. It was published in 2004, followed by the English version in 2011. We also paired the pictures that Mino took in the Gurindji country with excerpts from his book for a photography exhibition, which has been shown four venues in Japan, with plans for more.

I am always thinking about how to reach out to more people around the world on behalf of Mino and you all, and I believe that any profit from Mino’s work should be returned to Indigenous Australians. Central to that effort is the Minoru Hokari Memorial Scholarship fund at the Australian National University, which supports young scholars studying Indigenous Australians and their culture through fieldwork. I am happy to report that we are very close to reaching the target balance that will enable the fund to provide a $5,000 scholarship every year in perpetuity.

Mino’s fund is very special in that it is supported by many donations, big and small, from all over the world.

As part of my fundraising efforts for the fund, I also create knitting designs under the private label “Nimara & Japarta.” Knitters all over the world gather at one website called Ravelry and come across my designs, learn about Mino and his work with the Gurindji community, and donate to the scholarship fund by purchasing the designs. Thus each of my knitting designs carries the stories of Mino and the Gurindji people.

On Mino’s behalf, I will do everything I can to disseminate his work — what he learned from you — and reach as many people as possible and for as long as possible. That’s what Mino and I can do to return the favor of your accepting Mino into your country.

Congratulations again, and thank you so much for allocating time for Mino during this important event.