The members and staff of the Central Land Council mourn the passing of Kumanjayi Granites who chaired the CLC from 1994 until 1996.

Kumanjayi is remembered as a senior law man, pastor and education champion.

“Mr Granites knew the value of a well-rounded bilingual and bicultural education,” said Central Land Council director David Ross.

As a young man he trained as a teacher. He completed a Bachelor of Education and later undertook post-graduate studies.

Kumanjayi was an ATSIC councillor and served on the Yuendumu Community Council, including as its president.

Until close to his death last night, he worked as an interpreter, mentor and mediator in his home community of Yuendumu, three hours north-west of Alice Springs.

He was born there in approximately 1950 and raised in the community by parents from the Mount Doreen and Granites areas.

Kumanjayi was widely related to families across Central Australia.

In the CLC’s oral history collection, Every Hill Got a Story, he spoke about his grandfather from the Lake Mackay area and connections on his mother’s side towards Alekarenge and Willowra.

In his time as the CLC chair, Kumanjayi focussed on the repatriation of sacred objects.

“In 1994, he travelled with inaugural CLC chair Wenten Rubuntja to Sydney to collect sacred objects bought overseas by a businessman to bring them back home to their rightful owners,” Mr Ross said.

During a CLC symposium on the return of sacred objects in 1995, an effort to persuade museums around the country to return these objects, he spoke about the urgency of this unfinished business. Around the same time Kumanjayi began to make a name for himself as an artist. His works are held by public and private collections throughout Australia.