The spirituality of dadirri

Many deeply spiritual people have a stillness, a calmness, a sereneness. Just by being in their light, you feel calm and rested.

Such is the presence of Dr Miriam-Rose Ungenmerr AO.

Miriam-Rose is an Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu (Daly River). In 1975, she became the Territory’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher and has since served as Principal of the school she attended as a child. Miriam-Rose is also a renowned artist, activist, writer, and public speaker.

Miriam-Rose captured the hearts of many audience members during her presentation on dadirri at Melbourne Grammar School earlier this year. Dadirri is the practice of inner, deep listening used by Indigenous people to connect with, and to come to a deeper understanding of, the beauty of nature. She spoke of the inner spring within each of us and the need to nurture it by connecting with nature and the land.

Miriam-Rose also gently urged the audience to slow their lives down. “I am old,” she said. “I can’t walk with you if you are too fast.” It was a wonderful speech.

Miriam-Rose also met with Indigenous students during her visit to the School. “Seeing Aunty Miriam gave me more motivation not to give up throughout my schooling and the challenges that lie ahead in life,” said Jamarl Firebrace, Year 11. “It was an experience I will not forget – connecting with someone from our Indigenous culture.”

“I connected with Aunty Miriam on many levels, both of us being from remote communities, even though she was from the Territory and I am from Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia,” said Toby Bedford, Year 11. “It was good to have the support of such a wonderful Aboriginal elder. She cares so much about the next generation reaching our potential. She asked us to always remember who we are and where we are from.”

In 2013, Miriam-Rose established the Miriam-Rose Foundation to continue her work advocating for experiences that allow Indigenous youth to learn to ‘walk in two worlds’ – Aboriginal culture and mainstream Western culture.

You can find out more about Miriam-Rose, dadirri, and the Miriam-Rose Foundation at:

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