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Burnum Burnum Burnum Burnum i(A53807 works by) (a.k.a. Harry Penrith)
Born: Established: 10 Jan 1936 Wallaga Lake, Narooma - Bermagui area, Far South Coast, South Coast, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 18 Aug 1997 Woronora, Sutherland - Engadine area, Sutherland area, Sydney Southern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
Heritage: Aboriginal ; Aboriginal Wurundjeri / Woiwurung
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Burnum Burnum born to Charles and Lily Penrith was an Australian Aboriginal activist, sportsman, actor and author. Christened Harry Penrith, in his later life he adopted the name of his Wurundjeri great great grandfather Burnum Burnum (meaning Great Warrior). In 1936, Harry Penrith (a 3 month old infant) was orphaned after the death of his mother and became part of what would be known as the Stolen Generations.

He spent most of his childhood years in children's homes ran by the New South Wales Aborigines Welfare Board; first at the Aborigines Mission Home at Bomaderry and then from the age of ten at the Kinchela Boy's Home at Kempsey, New South Wales. It was during his time at Kinchela, where he had also attended the Kempsey High School, that the Welfare Board promoted Harry's athletic prowess in lifesaving.

Later, in 1963, when he was an officer with the Department of Agriculture at Wagga, New South Wales, he was again recognised for his achievements in Rugby League and cricket. An article in the Dawn: A Magazine for the Aboriginal People of N.S.W., July 1965, Harry who at that time was an Assistant Registrar of Wagga Agricultural College had won the N.A.D.O.C. (National Aborigines' Day Observance Committee) essay competition for his essay 'The Future of Aborigines in Australia'. In that same article it was noted that he was also the President of the newly-formed Aborigines Advancement League in the Riverina area. Harry is quoted here as saying that 'he did not seek charity, but justice and discriminating advice for his race'. This was the beginning of his political career, becoming a very prominent and articulate advocate of Aboriginal rights.

Under the assimilation policy he was raised to believe his was white, and it was not until the late 1960s that he began to search his Aboriginality and joined the battle for Aboriginal rights. He became involved as an activist in the campaign to have Truganina's remains removed from the Hobart Museum for reburial, and the historic establishment of the Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972. In 1973 he was the first Aboriginal appointee to the staff of Aboriginal Hostels Ltd., and was chosen as the Executive Officer of the Company.

In 1988, Harry (by then known as Burnum Burnum), 'in an act of self-representation' stood on the White Cliffs of Dover near Folkestone Harbour, England, where he articulated his public declaration the 'The Burnum Burnum Declaration' on 26 January, the official Bicentenary celebration day of the white invasion, settlement, and occupation of Australia.

Sources: Burnum Burnum - A Warrior for Peace; Wikipedia; Bringing up Harry Penrith: Injustice and Becoming Burnum Burnum; Dawn: A Magazine for the Aboriginal People of N.S.W. 1953; 1963; 1965)

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Last amended 27 Jun 2017 10:16:49
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