• Yolngu boys at Garma Festival in north-east Arnhem Land, NT, is painted in a Sydney Swans jersey to support embattled AFL star Adam Goodes. (AAP)Source: AAP
Magnificent pictures have emerged from the Garma Festival in Central Arnhem Land, as traditional dancers paint themselves in red and white and cover their backs with the number 37 as a show of solidarity for the Sydney Swans' Adam Goodes.
Andrea Booth

31 Jul 2015 - 4:06 PM  UPDATED 3 Aug 2015 - 6:47 PM

NITV News is at the Garma Festival and took these photos as the dancers prepared for the festival opening. 

The group, which is performing at the four-day Garma Festival in Central Arnhem Land, say they want to express support for the number 37 Andyamathanha/Narungga man who will not play against Adelaide on Saturday after being continually booed at an AFL match against the West Coast Eagles last Sunday. 

Dancer Gabirri told NITV News that they decided to paint the red Sydney Swans 'V' on their chests and white number 37s on their backs to send a message to Goodes that "we're proud of you ... and we're behind you."

“It is because we know what he is going through...down south and we just want to get behind him and we know he is in a bad way at the moment so we just want to show our support," Gabirri said.

“It is a shame that Australia is still doing it today in 2015, you know, people can say that we’re booing him because we don’t like him but we think there is underlying racism. No one booed him beforehand, before he started all this stand against racism and if they don’t think it‘s racism, well then, it’s bullying. It takes a toll on you."

“He should stand strong and stand against it.

“Adam, we’re proud of you. Keep doing what you’re doing and we’re behind you.”

The dance they do is about looking for a hollow log to make a log coffin. The painting of their bodies is more a tribute than the dance. It is a significant dance from the region, out of Nhulunbuy in Central Arnhem Land.

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Reconciliation Australia backs Goodes

Reconciliation Australia, which works to combat racism and of which Goodes is an ambassador, said it was inexplicable that Adam Goodes has been vilified despite dedicating himself to improving society by countering racism.

"Adam Goodes is an exemplary and accomplished Australian who has admirably been prepared to call out racism and promote Aboriginal histories and cultures throughout his AFL career," Reconciliation Australia CEO Mr Justin Mohmed said. "For this, he and his football career are now paying a heavy price."

"Adam Goodes is an exemplary and accomplished Australian who has admirably been prepared to call out racism and promote Aboriginal histories and cultures throughout his AFL career"

Some Australians have been saying that booing Goodes is not connected to racial discrimination. Journalist and non-Indigenous Australian Alan Jones told Channel Seven's morning show Sunrise earlier in the week:

"[Indigenous people are] in rugby league, they're in rugby union, they're everywhere, they're playing tennis, and people don't boo them. They're booing Adam Goodes because they don't like him and they dont' like his behaviour."

Mr Jones' provided an example of his assertion by saying the public's dislike arose from him performing an Indigenous war cry during a game the Swans played against Carlton in May. "They don't like the spear thrupping and the running in and doing a war dance and so on."

Reconciliation Australia's Mr Mohmed said that racism was implied in the jeers.

"Whilst I understand that some do not believe the booing comes from a place of racism, it is difficult to disconnect it from the issue of race," he said. "What is clear, is that the booing aimed at Adam is certainly not in the sporting spirit of reconciliation and we urge all Australians to stand in support of Adam this and every weekend.”