Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Tributes flow, on the death of highly respected Aboriginal elder Yami Lester

Yami Lester: tributes follow death of Aboriginal elder and Maralinga activist https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/23/yami-lester-tributes-follow-death-of-aboriginal-elder-and-maralinga-activist

Lester, who was blinded by British atomic tests in South Australia in the 1950s, campaigned to get recognition for the 1,800 Indigenous Australians affected, Guardian, 23 July 17 Tributes have poured in for Aboriginal elder and activist Yami Lester, who died at the age of 75.

Lester, who died in Alice Springs on Friday night, lived a life of “great hardship and challenge” after being blinded as a young adolescent by the Maralinga atomic tests in the 1950s, which he called the “black mist”.

He worked as a stockman before losing his sight.

He may be farewelled at a state funeral if his family accepts the offer from the Northern Territory government.“Mr Lester was a key Aboriginal leader who embraced the challenge of bridging two worlds,” NT chief minister Michael Gunner said on Saturday.

“He never let his blindness hold him back, he was sharp as a tack in negotiating at the highest levels of business and government.

“His life was a life of great hardship and challenge, met with great courage and foresight, and he achieved great change.”

He joined the Aboriginal Advancement League in Adelaide, fighting to gain recognition for the British atomic tests in South Australia, and an acknowledgement for the 1,800 Aboriginal people affected.

His work lead to the McClelland royal commission in 1984-85 which resulted in group compensation for the Maralinga Tjarutja people and long-term clean-up operations to restore the land.

Lester, who had an Order of Australia, was also central to the work of the Pitjantjatjara Council that led to the grant of freehold title to traditional owners in South Australia.

South Australia’s Aboriginal affairs minister, Kyam Maher, said Lester had inspired many and left behind a strong legacy.

Lester was also the inspiration for the 1987 Paul Kelly song Maralinga.“My thoughts are with his family, who carry on his work of activism, standing up for the rights and views of Anangu and preserving culture and language,” he said in a statement.

The South Australian government is consulting with his family on a memorial to recognise his contribution to the state.

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July 24, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories

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