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Ngarrindjeri Nation (Australia)

Last modified: 2006-02-05 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: ngarrindjeri nation | spears | boomerang |
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[Ngarrindjeri Nation flag] image by Rob Raeside, 1 Aug 2005
Based on an image by the designer, Matt Rigney. Used with permission.


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Description of the flag

The Indigenous People of the Lower River Murray Lakes and Coorong, known as the Ngarrindjeri, first flew and adopted this flag on 21st November, 1999

  • The 18 dots represent the 18 Laklinyeris (tribes) that make up the Ngarrindjeri nation.
  • The spears represent the traditional fishing spears of the Ngarrindjeri.
  • The Boomerang is the Sacred Boomerang that when thrown, circles the Laklinyeris informing their clan leaders to attend a National Meeting called Tendi (Tendi makes and interprets Ngarrindjeri Law).
  • The Blue represents the waters which surround Ngarrindjeri country
  • The Sun is the giver of life
  • The Ochre colour of the Boomerang represents our Mother Mother Earth
Patrick Byrt, 24 September 2004
Information from http://peaceliberation.tripod.com/pages/nlpaWebPage/Ngarrindjeri_flag.doc


Design and adoption process

The flag ratio of 1:2 was not the preferred one originally but it was used because it was more convenient for flag production in Australia and also because is the ratio that is used for the Australian flag.

The division of the flag image into two halves (top and bottom) with the sun in the centre was chosen to signify a connection with the Aboriginal flag.

The fishing spears were placed horizontally to signify "laying down of potential weapons" (and conciliation) rather than being angular & crossed which could be perceived to signify the alternative.

The three colours, Yellow, Red and Blue were chosen for several reasons, but firstly to indicate a connection with the Aboriginal flag (Red and Yellow) and the Blue was chosen because of the strong connection the Ngarrindjeri have with water in the River, The Coorong and Lakes district.

The specific shades of colour that are used were chosen to avoid reproduction problems in the printing process for books and magazines and the flags themselves. This meant choosing the most standard of all colours that are used in the world after the most basic colours of "Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black" - or CMYK). In this case it was - "Pantone yellow", "Pantone Reflex blue", and Pantone Warm Red". These colours do not have to be specially mixed - unlike virtually all other printing colours.

This standardizaton of colours was decided upon to minimise problems if various organizations were arranging their own printing with a local small printers with limited ink supplies, and to avoid the need to have special colours mixed at a high cost, or on-site hand-mixing with unpredictable results.

A deviation from the planned colour scheme occurred when the first (hand sewn) Ngarrindjeri flag was about to be made by the Flag centre on Goodwood Road,Wayville S.A. As it turned out, it was not possible to obtain the special flag making material in the specified colours of Pantone-Yellow; Pantone Reflex Blue and Pantone Warm Red, so the nearest colours available in standard flag material were selected. As luck would have it the colours were very similar, and the Blue of the original hand-made flag looked much better because it was no so dark. The three colours that were used were considered perfect by anyone who commented upon them at the time.

Originally the first flag was meant to be screen printed with standard ink colours, but the Flag Maker said that it's complex design made it uneconomical to gear-up for a single flag, so the expensive hand-sewn alternative was more economical.

All subsequent (full size) Ngarrindjeri flags have been screen printed, and the Flag makers have done an excellent job in reproducing the colours - so much so, that it is often impossible to tell if a screen-printed flag was the original or not unless one can make a close inspection.

It's important to mention that prior to the official raising of the Ngarrindjeri flag on Kumarangk, a number of elders had approved of the flag and then later at the Proclamation it was ceremonially passed from one to the next as they sat in a row on the red sand at the water's edge on Kumarangk. The flag was passed from the last elder and then attached to the pole and raised (with some difficulty because of the high wind) by four very strong Ngarrindjeri men including Ng: George Trevorrow. These and other events were witnessed by over three hundred people and captured on high-grade commercial video and also by the Advertiser newspaper photographer.

The original flag design and colours are those that were approved by the Ngarrindjeri elders either verbally or ceremonially or both; so it follows that any significant alteration to the original image could only be legitimately done with Ngarrindjeri elders' approval.
Ray Murphy, 2 August 2005

Use of the flag

On holiday in Victor Harbor, South Australia, I came across the Ngarrindjeri Nation Flag on a plaque on the plinth of the Encounter 2002 Poles, "ON OCCUPIED TERRITORY", commemorating the encounter in 1802 of Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin in Ramindjeri Ngarrindjeri Waters, now called Encounter Bay.

Apparently the flag was first flown over Kumarangk (Hindmarsh Island) on 21 November 1999. An image and description of this flag can be seen on http://ngarrindjeri.tripod.com/pages/flag.html, with further discussion on http://users.chariot.net.au/~raymur/Ngarrindjeri-history.html.
Ant, 1 September 2004