In brief

Historic Australian Aboriginal leader Yunupingu dies at 74

Activist and artist passes away 10 days after referendum on constitutional recognition for indigenous people was announced

Yunupingu in 1977.
Yunupingu in 1977. Author: Library & Archives NT
One of Australia’s most prominent Aboriginal leaders, Yunupingu, died on Monday 3 April at the age of 74. He lived a life dedicated to fighting for the rights of Australia’s indigenous people.

Yunupingu was a member of the Yolngu people, originally from the far north of the Northern Territory. An artist and activist, he was involved in various petitions to the Australian government for the recognition of Aboriginal peoples. He also defended their rights against mining companies. Throughout his life, Yunupingu called for Aboriginal peoples' right to make their own decisions about matters affecting their territories.

Since 2019, Yunupingu was one of 20 members of an advisory group that helped define the so-called Indigenous Voice in Parliament, a body that will for the first time give Aboriginal peoples permanent representation before the Australian government and parliament —albeit consultative, with no voting rights— if its establishment is approved in a referendum later this year. The referendum, announced on 23 March by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, envisages amending the Constitution. This would mean the first-ever constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people in the text.