Yothu Yindi, the Australian rockers, activists, and traditional songmen, will be inducted into the National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs) Hall of Fame this weekend.
Hailing from a small Yolŋu town in Northeast Arnhem Land, Yothu Yindi had a global hit with their 1991 song “Treaty,” written to highlight the then-Hawke Government’s broken promise of a treaty with Aboriginal people.
Blending rock and traditional Aboriginal music, “Treaty” went on to win song of the year at the ARIA Awards, one of the collective’s eight career wins.
Yothu Yindi played it the following year in New York to help launch the United Nations’ “International Year of the World’s Indigenous People,” and the track would log two weeks on the Official U.K. Singles Chart.
Later, the trailblazers performed their signature track at the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and, in 2012, elevation into the ARIA Hall of Fame.
Their influence can be seen today in Australia’s music landscape. Multiple award-winning Yolŋu surf-rock act King Stingray — multiple nominees at the 2023 NIMAs — includes band member Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu, the nephew of late Yothu Yindi frontman Mandawuy Yunupiŋu, and the Stingers’ Roy Kellaway is the son of the veteran act’s bass player, Stu Kellaway.
The current incarnation of Yothu Yindi features frontman Yirringa Yunupiŋu, nephew of Mandawuy, who had co-founded the group in 1986.
From the start, Yothu Yindi “was about indigenous culture, about indigenous rights, about our rights and place in Australia,” Mandawuy told guests at the ARIAs in 2012, adding that his group “has been about messages and bringing people together and asking them and the people to respect and understand one another.”
Yunupiŋu, who died in 2013 at the age of 56, and bandmate Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupiŋu, who passed in 2017, aged 46, will be posthumously saluted when Yothu Yindi is inducted for “its long and powerful contributions to Indigenous and Australian music,” reads a statement from organizers.
The induction ceremony will take place during the 19th annual NIMAs, the annual celebration of Australia’s First Nations music community, set for Saturday, Aug. 12 at Darwin Amphitheatre on Larrakia Country.
As previously reported, the Stingers are up for song and film clip of the year. Other multiple nominees include gifted vocalist Budjerah and Arnhem Land newcomers Wildfire Manwurrk.
Sponsored by Amazon Music, the NIMAs will feature performances from Thelma Plum, Barkaa and Budjerah, while veteran pop star Jessica Mauboy will be on hand to present an award.