Norman Baird: A Spark Within

The book “Norman Baird – a spark within” has encapsulated the details of the life of an extraordinary indigenous Australian – Norman Baird who was a Bama Buruwarra (man from Buru).

EXTRACTS from Norman Baird – a spark within

Norman Baird once wrote that he was prepared to advocate for the Kuku Yalanji people as long as there was ‘a spark left within’. In this letter he writes about his concern for the welfare of his community and how bureaucratic process was depriving Bama of their rights.

He was a man who despite feeling as though no progress was being made and that little if any justice was forthcoming, continued to work for the betterment of his people until the end of his life.

As a young man Norman fought to defend the rights of Australians in World War I only to come home and fight for his own freedom and that of his children. As an old man and almost blind, Norman recorded an ancient language and preserved part of a unique Australian culture.

Norman’s mother was an indigenous Australian and his father was native to Scotland. He learnt skills from both cultures: reading and writing, mining and hunting, English and Kuku Yalanji – skills that served him from the jungles of Far North Queensland to the battlefields of Europe.

Norman’s story provides an opportunity to glimpse the history of Far North Queensland – a shared history, and one that needs to be told so that common ground can be found to strengthen and unite Australian communities.

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