“The painting symbolizes the need for me to assist my people to retain their culture while gaining the education which gives us, as culturally bound Aboriginal people, the knowledge and power to live our cultural lives within the western world. All the sections of this painting meld together to make me whole - I cannot do without any of them if I am to remain a whole person (The Power In Me)” Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, talking about a painting she exhibited in 1991
‘Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann (AO) is an Aboriginal Elder from Nauiyu (Daly River), where she served for many years as the principal of the local Catholic primary school. She is a renowned artist, writer, activist and public speaker, a remarkable spirit-filled woman known for her reflections on Dadirri (inner deep listening and quiet still awareness).
In 1975, Miriam became the Territory's first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher, holding the position of Art Consultant with the Professional Services Branch of the Northern Territory Department of Education. During this time, she visited schools throughout the Territory, thus gaining the opportunity to advance her commitment to the inclusion of visual art as a part of every child's education.
In 1993, Miriam was appointed principal at St. Francis Xavier School at Daly River. In 1998, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, for her services to Aboriginal education and art.
In 2002, Miriam was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Northern Territory University, in recognition of her leadership and example in the fields of Aboriginal education and the visual arts, and for her contribution to the general community in the Northern Territory. In 2004, she was appointed to the now defunct Federal Government advisory body, the National Indigenous Council.
In 2015, Miriam was one of four Northern Territory Finalists for the Australian of the Year Award.
As well as being a committed and innovative educator, Miriam is a talented and accomplished artist who was an early experimenter with combining traditional techniques with western acrylics. She used art as a means of encouraging children to express themselves.
Miriam advocates for experiences that allow Indigenous youth to learn to ‘walk in two worlds’, those being Aboriginal culture and mainstream Western culture. Her many contributions have greatly benefited both local Aboriginal and broader mainstream society in numerous ways.
Miriam has set up the Miriam Rose Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation working to empower Indigenous youth through education, art, culture and opportunity.’