The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.
Marika was a linguist and educator belonging to the Rirratjingu people in Arnhem Land. She understood all fourteen clan languages of the Rirratjingu people and spoke three of them fluently. In 2006, Marika was awarded the Northern Territory's Territorian of the Year and Australian of the Year Award for her contributions to Indigenous education, teacher training, two-way education strategies, combining western and Indigenous knowledge and reconciliation. She was the niece of Wandjuk Marika.
In her 1998 Wentworth Lecture she said: 'My name is Raymattja. My surname is Marika. My other name, my deep name, is Gunutjpitt Gunuwanga. This name links me to my land, to my religious aspect of the land. It defines where I come from, who I am, and with this language, the Rom that the Elders taught over many years and centuries, this is continuing in our community. 'Yolngu people have learnt this Rom for years, through dilak, the Elders, teaching them, and we have been learning this through our fathers and through our elders. Those rules and the language that they have been teaching us are our own language, teaching through songs, manikay, through wänga, land, and through singing, or songs that women use for crying.' Source: Australian Aboriginal Studies No.1, 1999