An insight into Kunwinkgu tribe culture

Mandedaidai Namatnyilk was our guide, on the boat ride that we took on the East Alligator River. He was from Kunwinkgu tribe. Very knowledgeable and he told us stories about his culture and his land.

One of the most amazing and interesting things he shared was about their ritual when someone from their tribe passes away. He said that in their tribe (as they cannot burn the body in Australia), they first lay the person on a platform covered with a bark of a tree and leave the body to decay by itself for 3 years.

After 3 years or so, the tribe members collect the passed away person’s bones and keep it with them for the next 6 months. During that 6 months, members of other tribes come and bless that person who has passed on.

The bones are then coloured red and are buried inside the caves or the trunk of the trees for the person to rest. The whole process to rest someone who has passed on takes about 4 to 5 years.

I found this extraordinarily amazing and emotional. In an era where everyone moves on so fast, this culture still believes in grieving and resting someone that takes 4 to 5 years. That’s like Wow!