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April 3, 2023

Statement on the passing of Yunupingu by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy

“I am greatly saddened by the passing of Yunupingu.

When we met at Garma Festival in Arnhem Land only days after my arrival in Australia, I was struck by the tremendous respect and love that this proud Yolngu man drew from those around him, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. His leadership, service and sacrifice over decades helped Australia on its critical journey toward reconciliation.

Yunupingu spoke about himself as fire, one of his totems, which “must burn until there is nothing left.” In his inaugural address, my father President Kennedy talked about the light generated by defending freedom and that “the glow from that fire can truly light the world.”

Yunupingu’s fire illuminated us all. May it be a beacon of inspiration for generations to come.”

United States Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy