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Yorna (Donny) Woolagoodja was a renowned Kimberley artist whose giant Namaralay Wandjina featured in the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. He was the chairman of the Mowanjum Artists Spirit of the Wandjina Aboriginal Corporation.
Born at Kunmunya Mission, Yorna was moved along with his family to Mowanjum, well south of their Woddordda homeland. There he watched his Elders painting the Wandjina on bark and boards, and learnt the stories of Lalai (creation).
His father was Sam Woolagoodja, a respected lore and medicine man of the Woddordda people. After his father’s death in 1979, Yorna took on responsibility for the land and for the passing on of cultural traditions. He became active in the pursuit of native title and lead walking and camping tours in the West Kimberley, educating younger generations in cultural lore and the importance of the land.
Yorna co-wrote Keeping the Wandjinas Fresh (Fremantle Press 2005) and worked on many collaborative ventures including other books and films.
Mr Woolagoodja passed away in 2022.