Researcher urges Yamatji community to share photos with Geraldton library for history collection

Headshot of Reuben Carder
Reuben CarderGeraldton Guardian
Jill Abdullah with a piece of history from the Banksia Ball.
Camera IconJill Abdullah with a piece of history from the Banksia Ball. Credit: Jill Abdullah/Supplied

For researcher Jill Abdullah, a picture of her father, Indigenous rights activist George Abdullah, was an important enough piece of history for her to want it to be kept for the public to see.

After donating a copy of the image to the City of Greater Geraldton Library’s Yamaji Yanda project, Ms Abdullah said she believed other people would have valuable items they could share with the library, and encouraged them to help preserve the area’s Yamatji history and character.

Ms Abdullah said her image showed her father speaking at the 1972 Banksia Ball in Geraldton, an important moment in Indigenous history and a turning point in the rights struggle.

“It was a very key moment in Aboriginal affairs in Geraldton,” she said.

“A lot of Aboriginal affairs were coming to the fore, and being put on the agenda.”

She said she also had an ongoing project dedicated to preserving Mid West Indigenous history.

Born in 1919, George Abdullah was the son of Joseph Benedict Abdul, a labourer from India, and his Aboriginal wife Mary Salina, nee Griffin, according to a profile she wrote for the library.

He spoke to Rotary and other organisations and tried to raise interest in Indigenous affairs.

He was also the person to receive the honour of life member of the Bundiyarra organisation.

Ms Abdullah said 2022 would be the 50th anniversary of the Banksia Ball.

Librarian Lorin Cox said local history collection staff would be holding an event at Bundiyarra Irra Wangga Language Centre in Utakarra on April 4 to raise interest in the history project and hoped people would share images.

She said they would be scanned and processed and library staff would aim to return them on the day, if possible, depending on how many images they received.

Copyright would remain with the donor or organisation that they represent, and COVID-19 mandates may apply to the event, she said.

More information is available from the library’s social media or by calling the library on 9956 6659 or Bundiyarra on 9920 7900.

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