Charles Darwin University has awarded a Malnyangarnak Elder with an honorary Doctor of Letters in recognition of his work in environmental and cultural preservation.
Family, friends and locals gathered on Country in the NT community of Ramingining to see Otto Bulmaniya Campion (Gamarrang) receive the honour.
Dr Bulmaniya shared his journey to inspire the future generations of Traditional Owners to speak up and care for their land.
“It’s been a really long journey and I’m proud to be recognised. It’s also acknowledging the people who have walked with me along this journey,” Dr Bulmaniya said.
“The recognition can help me move forward and work with more people in the community to find ways to get Traditional Owners connected with education, training and research.”
The Traditional Owner currently directs the local ranger group, the Arafura Swamp Ranger Aboriginal Corporation, and collaborates with clans and other ranger groups around Ramingining.
Dr Bulmaniya said he witnessed and experienced the many challenges that younger First Nations people faced in education and employment.
“Our country services our people, and our country also needs people to care for it. We need to work on that, so the younger generation can move forward with confidence and show and strengthen our knowledge system,” he said.
“It’s about our time to tell our story for our country.”
CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said Dr Bulmaniya was a highly respected Elder and ceremony man.
"This is the first time we have awarded a degree on Country in a long time. Dr Bulmaniya is an incredible man by any standard," he said.
“This is a concept where traditional First Nations knowledge and approaches are taught and respected alongside Western knowledge systems. It gives people the benefit of Western knowledge and skills but keeps them connected to their traditional culture, knowledge, people and land.
“I think the concept of ‘both ways’ gives us a tool to live this principle. I think that the first stage in living this principle is to sit down and listen to people like Dr Bulmaniya,” he said.