Ted Strehlow

Theodor George Henry Strehlow (6 June 1908–3 October 1978) was an anthropologist who studied the Arrernte Australian Aborigines in Central Australia. He was considered a member of the Arrernte people, by dint of "adoption".

Strehlow's father was Pastor Carl Strehlow at Hermannsburg Mission, southwest of Alice Springs and Strehlow was born at Hermannsburg. At 14 years of age, after his father's death in 1922, Strehlow left Hermannsburg and went to school in Adelaide. He graduated with Honours in English from the University of Adelaide and returned to Hermannsburg on a grant from the Australian National Research Council to study Arrernte culture.

In May 1933 Gura (Tjenterama), the last of the great ceremonial chiefs of the gura bandicoot centre known as Ilbalintja, confided in Strehlow that neither he nor any of the other old men had sons or grandsons responsible enough to be trusted with the secrets of their sacred objects (tjurunga) and ceremonies. They were worried that all their secrets would die with them. Strehlow was asked to accept responsibility for the preservation of all their sacred activities. It was agreed and he began systematically to record the religious beliefs, social systems and history of what was left of the songs, myths, chants, and legends of the Arrernte people. Even in 1933 there were groups where all the fully trained elders had died and the only source of information was from the old men who had acted as ceremonial assistants.Fact|date=July 2008

Strehlow witnessed and recorded hundreds of sacred ceremonies, most of which are no longer practiced. His academic stature grew with the publication of "Aranda Traditions" (1947). This work had been assembled in 1934 but Strehlow delayed publication until all his informants were dead.

He gained considerable recognition for the linguistic work which his father had begun. In 1971 he published the monumental work, "Songs of Central Australia".

Strehlow died in 1978 from a heart attack and was cremated. His career and his role as the custodian of Aboriginal secrets has been dogged by controversy which has followed him beyond the grave.

A decade later, negotiations between his widow and the Northern Territory government led to the purchase of most, though not all, of the collection.Fact|date=July 2008 The "Strelhow Research Centre" at Alice Springs was established for preservation and public display of the works.


* "Aranda Phonetics and Grammar", with introduction by Professor A.P. Elkin (Australian National Research Council, [1944?] )
* "An Australian Viewpoint" (Printed for the author by Hawthorn Press, 1950)
* "Rex Battarbee (Sydney : Legend, [1956] )
* "Friendship with South-East Asia : a Cultural Approach" (Riall Bros., Printers, 1956)
* "Nomads in No-man's-land" (Aborigines Advancement League Inc. of South Australia, 1961)
* "Dark and White Australians" (Aborigines Advancement League Inc. of South Australia, 1964)
* "Assimilation Problems : the Aboriginal Viewpoint" (Aborigines Advancement League Inc. of South Australia, 1964)
* "The Sustaining Ideals of Australian Aboriginal Societies" (Aborigines Advancement League Inc. of South Australia, 1966, originally published: Melbourne : Hawthorn Press, 1956)
* "Comments on the Journals of John McDouall Stuart" (Libraries Board of South Australia, 1967)
* "Aranda Traditions" (Johnson Reprint, [1968] , originally published: Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1947)
* "Songs of Central Australia" (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1971)
* "Central Australian Religion" (Australian Association for the Study of Religions, 1978)
* "Journey to Horseshoe Bend" (Adelaide: Rigby, 1978)

External links

* [http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/museums/strehlow/index.html Strehlow Research Centre]
* [http://www.duckdigital.net/FOD/FOD0547.html Flight of Ducks] F.J.A Pockley journal entry from 1933 January 23rd with description of an encounter with Strehlow (includes photograph).
* [http://tghstrehlow.wordpress.com/ Journey to Horseshoe Bend] T.G.H Strehlow an account (in blog form) of his father’s death in October 1922.
*cite book |last= Hill |first= Barry |authorlink= Barry Hill (writer) |title= Broken Song: T G H Strehlow and Aboriginal Possession |publisher= Knopf-Random House |date= 2003

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