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Biographical entry Unaipon, David (1872 - 1967)

28 September 1872
Point McLeay Mission, South Australia, Australia
7 February 1967
Tailem Bend, South Australia, Australia


David Unaipon was an Aboriginal preacher and inventor, and one of Australia's first Aboriginal writers. He developed and patented a modified handpiece for shearing in 1907 and made predictions about the development of polarised light and helicopter flight.


Born Point McLeay Mission, South Australia, 28 September 1872. Died 7 February 1967. Servant 1885-90, Point McLeay Mission 1890-late 1890s (learned bootmaking), storeman for an Adelaide bootmaker, book-keeper, Point McLeay store, spent 50 years collecting subscriptions for the Aborigines' Friends' Association, combining this work with lectures and sermons, studied and published Aboriginal legends from the early 1920s, wrote articles from 1924 for the Sydney "Daily Telegraph", assisted the Bleakley inquiry into Aboriginal welfare 1928-29. Coronation medal 1953. Commemorated by portraits in the South Australian Museum, the national David Unaipon award for Aboriginal writers, established 1988, and the annual Unaipon lecture in Adelaide, established 1988.

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  • Simons, Margaret, 'Nobody's hero', Eureka Street, 4 (4) (1994), 18-20. Details


Rosanne Walker