Birthday: September 28, 1872
Died At Age: 94
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: David Ngunaitponi
Born in: South Australia
Famous as: Preacher
Spouse/Ex-: Katherine Carter
father: James Unaipon
mother: Nymbulda Ngunaitponi
Died on: February 7, 1967
place of death: Tailem Bend
discoveries/inventions: Shearing Machine, Centrifugal Motor
education: Point McLeay Mission School
Humanitarian Work: Pressed for the rights of the aboriginal community
Who was David Unaipon?
David Unaipon is one among the many individuals who has played a vital role in the evolution of the Australian society. This great preacher, who was discriminated against at a young age for belonging to the aboriginal race, raised his voice against the ill-treatment of people belonging to his community. David being a crusader of his clan has helped other members of his community in enjoying a better social status today. Apart from being involved in matters of great political concerns, Unaipon was also deeply involved in scientific research, and is credited with as many as 19 inventions, all of which fetched patents. Some of these path-breaking works include the design of a helicopter, based on the principle of a ‘Boomerang’ as well as the polarisation of light. The jack of all trades that he was, this man also ventured into the field of literature. The inspiration drawn from the works of eminent writers like John Munyan and John Milton turned Unaipon into a writer. One of his acclaimed literary works is the book titled ‘Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals’, the result of his deep study about the tribal race. His contribution towards the society also earned David a place on the $50 Australian bill.
Childhood & Early Life
David was born to James Ngunaitponi and Nymbulda on 28th September, 1872 in Point Mcleay Mission, Australia. He is one among the nine children born to his parents.
He started pursuing his primary education at the ‘Point McLeay Mission School’ when he was seven years old, but discontinued at the age of thirteen to work with the popular politician and pastoralist, C.B Young.
The boy impressed Young with his intelligence, and the latter encouraged Unaipon to explore his passions, such as literature, music and science.
During the 1890s, Unaipon moved to Adelaide in search of employment, but he was denied of opportunities by many for being black-skinned. After a long, tiring hunt for a job, he finally started working as an apprentice to a boot-maker in Adelaide. However, he didn’t continue this job for long and started working at ‘The Point McLeay Store’.
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In the early 1900s, David became an employee of the ‘Aborigines’ Friends Association’, an initiative aimed at supporting the rights of Aboriginal Australians.
One of his great accomplishments was the invention of a ‘shearing’ device, mainly aimed at extracting sheep fur. He obtained as many as 19 patents during this period for many other such inventions, which also included an idea of a centrifugal motor.
A few other significant achievements of this great man included his version of a helicopter, which worked on the principle of boomerang. He even explored Optics, which was a subject of great interest and went on to conduct a research on polarisation of light. By 1914, these works of Unaipon made waves amongst the public, helping him earn the title of ‘Australia’s Leonardo’.
David was also fascinated by literature and his interest in this field soon grabbed the attention of the prestigious ‘University of Adelaide’. The institution had appointed David to gather facts and interesting stories and episodes of aboriginal Australians.
David was also associated with the famous newspaper firm ‘The Sydney Telegraph’ since 1924 and even penned numerous articles for the daily.
David finally penned his research on aboriginal folks in the form of 3 booklets, during the period 1927-29. He even wrote books on his other topics of interest such as the flight pattern of a helicopter and the concept of perpetual motion.
Apart from just being associated with an Aboriginal association and writing books based on their lives, this great man also fought for his clan’s political rights. He urged the Australian government to uplift the people from this community, who resided in different states of the continent.
Unaipon’s research on the aboriginal community was released in 1930, in the form of a book titled ‘Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals’. The book went on to be a well-acclaimed work and was published later as ‘Legendary Tales of The Australian Aborigines’.
Awards and Achievements
Unaipon was one of the few eminent individuals who were honoured with the Coronation medal in 1953.
Personal Life & Legacy
Unaipon tied the knot with a woman named Katherine Carter, belonging to the Tangane descent, in 1902.
David was invited for the esteemed Australian centenary Levee event in 1936, making him the first man from the aboriginal community to grace the event with his presence.
Unaipon succumbed to death on February 7, 1967 at a hospital located in the town of Tailem Bend.
A division of the ‘University of South Australia’ has been named the ‘David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research’, in honour of the man’s contribution to the society.
In honour of his literary prowess, the Australian government introduced the ‘David Unaipon Literary Award’ to honour budding writers.
The ‘Reserve Bank of Australia’ honoured this great writer by printing his face on a $50 dollar bill. However, his family members protested against the government for using his name without permission.
This preacher and writer preferred conversing in formal, classical English, rather than the way the language is used by commoners for conversation