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Indigenous Law Bulletin

Indigenous Law Bulletin
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Editors; Dodson, Mick --- "A Whitefella's Elder: a Tribute to Nugget Coombs" [1998] IndigLawB 24; (1998) 4(9) Indigenous Law Bulletin 23

A Whitefella's Elder:
a Tribute to Nugget Coombs

Extract from a letter written by Michael Dodson to Nugget's son, Jim Coombs and Mary McArthy, November 1997

A powerful advocate for Indigenous peoples and employing those all too rare qualities of humility and generosity, Nugget Coombs used the respect he had earned to make sure that the marginalised and the silenced found a voice in public life. Long before the rights of Indigenous peoples had gained currency, Nugget insisted on their recognition and inclusion at the highest levels of Government. He knew more about the workings of our country than just about anyone else I could name. His wisdom taught him the value of listening, and his deep respect for all human beings taught him to use his knowledge honourably. From the beginning of his involvement with Indigenous peoples, and throughout his life, he listened, he considered and he spoke wisely. He believed in our capacity, as Australians, to respect each other and to respect our land. When so many of us stumbled, he retained his faith that we would create a vibrant and a just society. He had the greatest faith in all of us.

Nugget was the whitefella's most senior elder with all the stature and grace which that role carries. His life was a tribute to Australia.

May our lives be a tribute to his faith.

Nugget Coombs was farewelled in a state funeral at St May's cathedral in Sydney on 14th November, 1997.

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