This article attempts to describe the Ngarra law of Arnhem Land in order to provide access to the law for interested people, especially “white” (Balanda) lawyers. The law described is that of the Yolngu people (who speak the Yolngu matha languages) yet the article is written in English. Hence many terms and concepts from one language have been used to describe the law of another. In addition, the Ngarra law is not simply “law” as understood in Australian legal circles. Ngarra “law” is religious customary law, that is, the law of the tribal religion of the Yolngu adherents. Accordingly, this article has not been drafted with Australian methods of legal interpretation in mind, which should not be applied to it. Rather, this article may be understood as more akin to a secondary legal source than a primary legal source; the primary sources having been retained (and remain mostly secret) by the Ngarra law custodians. As a law text, this article is unique in the Australian law landscape and accordingly may be described as sui generis. In this article, the terms “Yolngu (customary) law” and “Ngarra law” are used interchangeably, and the term “polygamy” is used to describe polygyny.
|Number of pages||22|
|Journal||Northern Territory Law Journal|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|