An historic painting once thought to be lost will be on display for the first time in 30 years as part of the upcoming Nitmiluk Festival.
Jawoyn artist Marnakolorlo Alice Mitchell's painting tells a story of Nitmiluk and the rainbow serpent 'Bolung'.
The sheet of masonite board painted in ochrebecame the symbol of Jawoyn's connection to their traditional lands in their historic land claim over Nitmiluk.
In 1989, the historic year Jawoyn won their land back, the painting was given the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory for safekeeping.
But a series of unfortunate events lead many to believe the painting had been lost forever.
"A number of collections the museum was holding were returned to a Katherine community art centre in the 1990s," Jawoyn Association adviser Chips Mackinolty said.
"The 1998 Katherine flood hit not long after the collections were returned to the town and they were either destroyed or lost in the floodwaters.
"We thought that painting may have suffered the same fate."
The painting however has been found safely in a drawer in the museum's Indigenous stores and will be shown at the Sharing Country exhibition at Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre for the 10 days of the Nitmiluk Festival.
"Marnakolorlo was not only a known artist, she was the key witness in the Jawoyn land claim - many called her Jawoyn Queen," Jawoyn Association board chairperson Lisa Mumbin said.
"She was a strong culture woman with a lot of knowledge and her painting had a lot of meaning for us.
"We're so happy that after 30 years since we saw it at the celebrations of the handback, everyone will be able to see it again."
The Sharing Countryexhibition opens the festival next Friday night, celebrating 30 years since the handback of Nitmiluk to Jawoyn traditional owners.
Running from September 6 to 15, the festival includes a range of music, Katherine Bird Festival, an outdoor showing of Top End Wedding, markets and a family fun day.
For the full program head to the website here.
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