Cherry Wulumirr Daniels awarded an Order of Australia in recognition of dedicating her life to the advancement of her community

Date: Oct 31, 2016

Publication Type: Newsroom

Cherry Wulumirr Daniels OAM chose to share her joy of being awarded an Order of Australia in the 2016 Queens Birthday Honours List with her family and community of Ngukurr on 26 October. And so in front of a cheering crowd at the Ngukurr School she was formally handed her Order of Australia medal by the Administrator of the Northern Territory, the Hon. John Hardy OAM

Awarded in recognition of her service to the Indigenous community of the Northern Territory, she has dedicated her life to the advancement of her community.  

Among her achievements was the founding of a group of four women rangers under the old CDEP program in the mid 90s, the Yugul Mangi Rangers in 1999 and the Ngukurr Language Centre in 1999 to revitalise, document, teach and promote the traditional languages of the community’s seven clans – Marra, Ngandi, Ngalakan, Nunggubuyu, Alawa, Ritharrngu, Wandarrang.  

She has co-authored book chapters, academic journal articles, university educational materials and documentaries with non-Indigenous colleagues.

Cherry was also instrumental in pushing for the establishment of the 20,000 sq km South Eastern Arnhem Land Indigenous Protected Area, which was declared in September 2016. She was a presenter at the inaugural World Indigenous  Network Conference, hosted by the  North Australian Indigenous Land and  Sea Management Alliance in 2013.  

Overcoming a ban on speaking her traditional Ngandi language at the Ngukurr Mission School as a child, she taught herself later in life and is now one of the few remaining Ngandi speakers.  A natural leader and educator, she has taught for many years in the language centre and school, helping her community regain their knowledge and pride in language and culture.

Cherry has been a particularly strong advocate and role model for the women in her community and many at her investiture ceremony spoke of her influence in their lives. At age 72 she has lost none of her passion and vigour and entertained the crowd with an inspiring speech about the importance of knowing language and culture, protecting country and gaining ‘both ways’ education to succeed in both worlds.