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Navy's deep connection with Saltwater people of Blue Mud Bay celebrated

Zak Kirkup -

In a significant ceremony at the Indo-Pacific Sea Power Conference last week, the Australian Navy's enduring bond with the Saltwater people of Blue Mud Bay was celebrated through the presentation of a symbolic bark painting by Djambawa Marawili, a revered artist and Madarrpa clan Elder.

Mr. Marawili, known for using his art to express the sacred designs that signify his deep connection to the land and sea, presented his work titled "Spirit of Sea Rights." This painting represents more than artistic expression; it serves as a powerful articulation of the Navy's connection to both the sea and Indigenous Australia.

The artwork features the ancestral baru (crocodile) extending from the saltwater, symbolizing the strengthening of the Navy with sacred fire, a force that protects and preserves Australia.

Mr. Marawili's said his presentation underscored the importance of mutual understanding and shared futures.

"I give this Spirit of Sea Rights – the Nganarr Lirrtji (tongues of the sacred ancestral fire) from Blue Mud Bay reaching out – to strengthen Navy and bukmak (everyone together) Australia," he said adding to the significance of learning and understanding each other.

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mark Hammond spoke highly of the painting, viewing it as a bridge linking Navy to Australia's ancient history and its First Nations people.

"This bark is a remarkable gift from our First Nations people. It includes Navy in our nation's story so that we can identify with the history of the continent prior to the birth of the Australian nation," Vice Admiral Hammond stated.

He also highlighted the Navy's pride in its relationship with Mr. Marawili and the service of many First Australian sailors, particularly poignant ahead of Remembrance Day.

"Our Navy is proud of our relationship with Djambawa. We are proud of the many first Australian sailors who serve in our Navy and those who serve our country in others ways." said the Chief of Navy.

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