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Like the removal of children, the removal of Aboriginal human remains is a story that must be acknowledged and told, and every effort made to bring home our ancestors in a respectful and cultural manner as a way of reconciling this past. It will be an emotional journey for us all.
A portrait of Naomi Appleby

Cultural affiliations/language group: Yawuru and Karajarri

Community focus: Broome region, Western Australia

Position: Project Coordination Officer in the Native Title and Environmental Services unit — Future Acts and Heritage Employer: Nyamba Buru Yawuru Ltd

Interests: Collection management, curatorial/interpretation and design, exhibitions, repatriation

Mentor: TBC


Naomi Appleby is a Yawuru and Karajarri woman from Broome (northwest Australia). Her skin group is Burungu and her Karajarri name is Nyimbala. Her vision is strongly influenced by her grandparents, who were at the forefront of protecting Indigenous rights and language revival for the Yawuru and Karajarri people.

Naomi has been employed at Nyamba Buru Yawuru (Yawuru) for four years, working in the Native Title and Environmental Services unit, servicing the Yawuru community and working closely with elders and law bosses to protect country. She is Yawuru’s next emerging curator working in the Cultural Heritage unit. She is enrolled in the University of Deakin’s graduate diploma course in Land and Sea Country Management. At Yawuru she is training in developing interpretation for the Gwarinman Repatriation Project and the Western Australian Museum. She will also be working on Mangara, Yawuru’s storyline/digital archive project gathering together Yawuru resources and stories. Naomi is enthusiastic and passionate about Indigenous self-empowerment and the continuity of traditional language and culture.


‘I am working on Yawuru’s repatriation project, which we have called Wanggajarli Burugun – We are coming home. A key component of this project is to develop the Gwarinman memorial area within Broome cemetery to repatriate Aboriginal people taken from Yawuru country. We have located over 30 people, including Gwarinman. His engraved skull is in the Natural History Museum, London, and 14 people from the Saxony Ethnographic Collections (SEC) in Germany. Our aim is to bring all our ancestors home and tell the important and challenging story of their removal. This will require sensitive interpretation and negotiation with community, institutions and the Australian Government.

As Yawuru cultural youth ambassador I have a coordinating and curatorial role. In partnership with curators at the SEC we are planning an exhibition and documentary film about their return and their stories.'

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