Yarralin resident Alan Young Najukpayi has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal for "selflessly devoting his life to his country."
Born in the early 1930's in the "Natives' Tent" beside the hospital at the Victoria River Downs homestead, Mr Young Najukpayi worked on a number of cattle stations in the region, as well as working as a drover through Queensland and Western Australia throughout his early life.
More recently, Mr Young Najukpayi's evidence, knowledge, assistance and advice has been vital to a number of successful and ongoing land claims in the Northern Territory, including the Jasper Gorge-Kidman Springs Land Claim, the Wickham River Land Claim and the ongoing Victoria River Native Title Claim.
In 1972, Mr Young Najukpayi was instrumental in the strike by Aboriginal stockmen at the Victoria River Downs pastoral lease holding in protest against working for rations, and demanded they receive proper pay and conditions and a return of their ancestral lands.
Those lands were not returned to them until the conclusion of the Wickham River Land Claim, when land in and around the Yarralin community was returned in 2016.
In a statement, the Northern Land Council congratulated Mr Young Najukpayi on his OAM, saying he has "selflessly devoted his life to his country, his culture and his people."
"Mr Young Najukpayi is a humble man but he is one of the giants upon whose shoulders we all stand," Northern Land Council Chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said.
"It is only through the dedication and selfless commitment of people like Mr Young Najukpayi that we have got a lot of country back and kept our cultures alive."
Mayor of the Victoria Daly Regional Council and Executive Councillor of the NLC, Brian Pedwell, said the recognition of Mr Young Najukpayi's achievements was "long overdue."
"We are all pleased to see that one of our countrymen has been honoured in this way. His recognition is long overdue and I know that I speak on behalf of everyone at Yarralin and right across the VRD when I send our heartfelt appreciation and congratulations to Mr Young Najukpayi, his family and countrymen and women," he said.
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