Mary Magdalene Tipungwuti
Skin: Arinkuwula (Stone)
Dance: Kirrilima (Jungle fowl)
Mary was born at Garden Point (Pirlangimpi) in 1935. A week after her birth, she moved with her father and mother to the Bathurst Mission. Her mother, Nellie Kantilla, worked in domestic service and on the farm at the Catholic Mission. Her father was Tom Palay Apuatimi. He worked in the public service in Darwin as well as for the unions and spook up at the time for Aboriginal people. In 1946, he faced a judge in nagu saying “You gotta treat us Aboriginal people as Europeans. We own Australia, we need the same treatment. I feel the same, I should be able to drink in the hotel.” He passed away in 1956.
Mary married Dermott Tipungwuti on 12th September 1951. Together they had eight children: xxx who died in 2001, Pius Tipungwuti, Cathy Stasi, Linda Carmel, Andrina who died at 11 months old, Marcelina, Rodney who died at 6 months old, and John Martin. Her husband died in 1988 in Milikapiti.
In the 1970’s, Mary taught weaving, making pandanus mats, some in traditional Tiwi style, but also learned the Arnhem Land style from a book. She has made many baskets and tungas and used to sell them to teachers and other service workers.
She moved to Milikapiti in November 2001 from Rangu, after losing her eldest son. She first made tungas for sale at Jilamara Arts and Crafts in 2002. After becoming a member with Jilamara, Mary developed her skills in painting on canvas and participated in many print workshops.
Mary spent her last years at aged care in Wurrumiyanga (Bathurst Island) before passing away in 2019.