Thursday Thought – “Cultural Appropriation” or “Yindyamarra”?

This post is inspired by Suzanne, “Moving On” Part 1 & 2.

The issue of “cultural appropriation” is very difficult to discuss in simple terms, especially in Australia where the First Nation people have suffered large scale “appropriation” that would be better termed theft. I have no Indigenous heritage being a 4th generation Australian descendant from Anglo/Celtic families so when I knew I wanted to use some words from the Wiradjuri language on this blog site, I contacted Mark Saddler who runs Bundyi School and Cultural Programs and the Facebook site:

We spoke and we discussed using Wiradjuri Language and I purchased from him “A New Wiradjuri Dictionary”, compiled by Stan Grant (Snr.) and Dr John Rudder.

During our conversation he told me about the word: “Yindyamarra”, which the Wiradjuri Dictionary states is “respect, be gentle, polite, honour, do slowly”.

This is what Mark wrote about yindyamarra in The Daily Advertiser in 2016:

Mark Saddler’s Wiradjuri Mabun, October 15, 2016

Yindyamarra is one Wiradjuri word that means so much. Yindyamarra means respect; learn slowly and respect yourself and those about you.

It is very important to make sure that we as Aboriginal mayiny (people) educate ourselves as well as others about our culture, language and heritage. Education is the key to being able to move forward in life. But education is not always about learning in a classroom or office. It is about being involved in connection to ngurambang (country) it is being involved in your dabaa malang (mob) your family and mudyi (friends).

Another part of what I try to do in my life is to impart knowledge, language and cultural awareness to people who are prepared to mabinya (stop), wudhagarbinya (listen), and yalbilinya (learn) about what Wiradjuri mayiny (people). We as Wiradjuri mayiny (people) have always been very open to sharing what we know and have learnt from our mudyigaang (elders) bearing mind what we can and can’t share.

In Albury, the Murray Art Museum (MAMA) presented an animated film work by artist Bernard Sullivan, narrated by Uncle Stan Grant in 2016 entitled “Yindyamarra: Respect, go slow, take responsibility”. 

Yindyamarra is at the heart of Wiradjuri culture and lifestyle. It is sometimes translated as respect, but it is difficult to translate a word that encapsulates a whole way of life. This film seeks to share an understanding of different aspects of Yindyamarra including the qualities of respect, going slow, honouring, and of taking responsibility. Each of the twenty sections of the film reveals a different aspect.,-go-slow,-take-responsibility

On the Charles Sturt University Home page, you find:

Yindyamarra Winhanganha

‘Yindyamarra Winhanganha’ is a Wiradjuri phrase meaning, ‘the wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in’. It’s a sentiment at the heart of CSU’s approach to education, and reflects the University’s ethos ‘for the public good’. So, welcome to CSU – learn to live well and make this world worth living in.


I wrote in my first post ( about the Native American belief of the Red Road, which I have referred to as my theme:

David A Patterson Silver Wolf, the first American Indian professor in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, wrote on his blog in 2011 that:

‘Walking the Red Road is a determined act of living within the Creator’s instructions.  Basically, it is living a life of truth, humbleness, respect, friendship, and spiritually. Those on this road are by no means walking a perfect path, but are in search of self-discovery and instructions.’

Is what I am doing “cultural appropriation”? I was born in Molong Hospital almost 67 years ago. Today outside the Hospital is this sign:


On it we read: “Gawaymbanha – dhu”, which Wiradjuri Dictionary has as: “Welcome, Tell to come”. The suffix “dhu” denotes the action and calls to the individual.

I believe we can learn from our First Nation people how to truly live. “Yindyamarra” is the central component of that life and I walk the red road with humility “in search of self-discovery and instructions”, as David A. Patterson, Silver Wolf says. I honour people such as him and Mark Saddler and thank them for permitting me to learn from them. As Mark says so eloquently, we need to stop (mabinya), listen (wudhagarbinya) and learn (yalbilinya). Too many of us are in too much of a hurry to “achieve” whatever it is we desire to be able to understand that. We need yindyamarra to know what living is, and we need to live with yindyamarra to know who we are. Our goal as humans should be as Charles Sturt University says:  “the wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in”.

Let Mark Saddler have the last word, with my gratitude. Yesterday on his Facebook page he posted:

Mandaang guwu biyambul ngadhi mudyi
(thank you all my friends) 
who follow ngadhi murru (my journey) thru this page 

This page takes many hours to put together story and photos so that I can share with you and the world how deadly Wiradjuri and all the other nations of koorie mobs in our ngurambang (country) are.

Also to those who are not Aboriginal you are also a massive part of our lives, we are all in this place together, we are all just visitors to this place we call gunyah (home)


6 thoughts on “Thursday Thought – “Cultural Appropriation” or “Yindyamarra”?

  1. Very interesting post. Here in Canada we have many First Nations who are in the process of recovering from all the attempts to either eliminate them or assimilate them. In fact, I work with a First Nation in the north known as the Dene. Cultural assimilation is of course a huge concern (along with many other issues that we’re trying to overcome) but I think that you hit the right balance in your post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry I missed your post until now. I guess I have been too busy at present. I like the teaching about going slowly and learning to stop and listen. It is easy to get catch up in the rush of life. I am always thinking ahead to the next thing I have to do. Thanks for the timely reminder to stop and savour the moment more.
    Also thanks for mentioning my blog. I appreciate it.
    Appropriation is such a difficult issue with so many facets to consider. I agree we can learn from indigenous peoples.


    1. No need to apologise, I appreciate you doing it now. I’ve only moved house three times in my adult life, but I know how busy it is and how difficult, in some ways. Hope it all goes well. It is good to “stop and savour the moment”, or practice mindfulness, is the other way of referring to it. That is something I’ve really only learnt in the last few years. Before that, I was also caught up in concern for the future. Rushing through life is probably the biggest problem with our society. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, its hard not to get caught up in the speed of things. I meditate a lot but still manage to spend far too much time rushing about. Mindfulness as a way of life sounds like a really good idea. I think I will attempt to cultivate it more. Thanks for sharing your insight. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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