On behalf of the AMYAC members and the board of directors we offer our condolences to the Lennon family for your loss.

William Herbert Lennon Senior.

Mr Lennon Senior was born at Watinuma / Officer Creek, near Fregon, on 1 March 1933. When he was born the old people said he should be called Tommy, but his father named him William (Bill).

Bill grew up around Mt Willoughby and Evelyn Downs stations, and Coober Pedy township. He learned about Aboriginal ways from his mother’s family, mainly his grandfather [mother’s father].

As a young fella he walked with his old people between Coober Pedy, Mabel Creek, Mt Willoughby, Evelyn Downs and Oodnadatta. The old people were shepherding sheep.

For a while as a child he lived in Coober Pedy at The Flats. There was a big mob of anangu [Aboriginal people] there.

There were all sorts of bush tucker around near The Flats – bush tomatoes, mangatas, bush beans and bush bananas. There were creeks in the area where you could get water.

There was lots of singing and dancing around The Flats, like a concert. The old people used to put a blanket over the children’s heads so they couldn’t look but they could hear the sound. Bill told me he was frightened, but he knew he was safe because they were his people.

Bills mother was buried in Adelaide. He believed that her spirit is at Mt Willoughby.

From about 39 years old he moved back to Coober Pedy and lived for a long while at the Umoona community. He became a director and the Chairman of the Umoona Community Council.

There were by then a lot more houses in Coober Pedy but it was only just starting to build up. Most of the anangus were living at Umoona Reserve in those days.

Later he lived near the church he established, close to the hospital.

Old people were all the time telling him he should go and get more knowledge. They taught him about the Coober Pedy area. They were travelling in an old Toyota with a bag of flour, tea and sugar. Those old people taught him to become a leader.

He travelled all around for ceremonies – to Western Australia, Queensland, APY lands, many places.
In the late 1970’s / early 80’s he founded Antakirinja Inc. and became focused on land rights for Aboriginal people, particularly Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara people.

In 1994 when the Native Title Act came in he and some other local traditional owners put in a native title claim.

In 1995 he sought the help of ALRM which was the native title representative body for SA at the time.
Bill was a true leader of his people, as he had a quiet confidence and clear vision of what could be achieved.

He was inspirational to listen to as well as being a strategic thinker. He was strong-willed and determined to make things happen.

He and the other founding members of what became Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal Corporation became steady hands steering the good ship AMYAC and its native title claim through what were at times stormy seas.

AMYAC, under the leadership of Bill Lennon, led the way with its, at the time, ground-breaking achievements on behalf of its members:

  1. a native title claim, which had a fairly representative leadership group – most native title claimants could identify with one of the 6 named applicants as family;
  2. a constitution that largely ensured that the board of directors were representative of most of the AMYAC family groupings- no one family could stack the board with only its own family members;
  3. a manageable heritage protection regime;
  4. a number of strong and lucrative agreements with mining companies;
  5. the establishment of a charitable trust in 2010;
  6. the handback of the Breakaways Reserve land to AMYAC in 2011;
  7. on 11 May 2011 a consent determination of native title in the Federal Court of Australia; and
  8. in 2015 the site registration of Lake Phillipson (Pirniyi)

Right to the very end, Bill had a clear vision of how and where he wanted to live and end up. That strong will and determination, which saw AMYAC achieve such great success never departed him.

Mr. Bill Lennon, a true leader who did so much for his people AND his family.

Justice John Mansfield hands over the determination documents to Bill Lennon 2011.

This story and image were approved for publication by his family.

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