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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4737

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (13:49): I rise today in tribute to Yindjibarndi elder and custodian, Mr Cheedy, who died on 1 April 2012 at the great age of 105. With his long life, Mr Cheedy beat all the odds that have been stacked against Indigenous Australians since colonial times. He is a shining light for his people and a motivational figure for this nation as we work to build on the 2008 Apology to the Stolen Generations and to improve the quality of life for Indigenous Australians.

Born in 1907 on Hooley Station at Cheedy Creek in the WA Pilbara, Mr Cheedy became a skilled stockman and windmill man before moving to Roebourne for the education of his children. He was an inspirational, beloved leader renowned for his dedication to teaching young people about his country, preserving Yindjibarndi law, culture, and language, and caring about the future of his country and people, including helping with the successful Yindjibarndi and Ngarluma native title claim in 2003.

Though he was born of another era and adhered to Yindjibarndi tradition, Mr Cheedy employed all the modern resources available—cultural mapping, books, films and recordings—to make sure that future generations would benefit from his knowledge. Dismayed by the ravaging impact of alcohol on Indigenous families, Mr Cheedy became a lay preacher with the Pilbara Aboriginal Church and travelled the state to help people suffering from alcoholism. In 2011, Mr Cheedy's service to his people and country was recognised with a NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement award. Mr Cheedy will be missed, but his legacy remains. As Thomas Paine wrote in 1791 in The Rights of Man:

My country is my world, and my religion is to do good.