50 Amazing Tidda Queens
Strong women are so important for our next generation of girls. How can Indigenous and Non-Indigenous girls alike strive for success if they cannot look up and see strong and proud women who have overcome barriers to be successful in their chosen field or in times past survived insurmountable odds to survive?
These women are role models for our daughters, they show through fortitude and belief in themselves that they can achieve. This possibility can fuel a young woman to believe they can be whoever they want to be. When we see other women surviving and thriving we are optimistic about our own potential.
This article has been a labour of love, researching these women has fuelled in us the need to promote and create the Tidda Queen almanac. We need our daughters to hear about strong women each and every day. We are proud to present the first 50 Tidda Queens, though this is just the start.
Born in 1812, In Tasmania, she was part of the local Indigenous group who were moved from their land to the Aboriginal settlement, Flinders Island during the European invasion of Australia.
Truganinin was also baptised with a different name, Lallah Rookh, because of the “Europeanization” of Australia.
It was believed she gave birth to a daughter, Louisa Esmai.
She died on May 8, 1876, at the age of 64. Against her wishes, her skeleton was placed on public display at the Tasmanian Museum in 1904.
However, in April 1976, despite the hurdles she experienced even upon her death, her last wishes were met when her remains were cremated and scattered in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel.
2. Gladys Elphick
An Aboriginal community leader who was an active member of Aborigines Advancement League of South Australia, who organised social and sports events.
Gladys also was the founder and long running president of the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia. Through this organisation, she aimed to heighten the position of the Indigenous people in the community. In 1977, Gladys also founded the Aboriginal Medical Service.
‘Aunty Glad’ Elphick, a highly respected Elder in the Aboriginal community, was named as South Australian Aboriginal of the Year in 1984. Four years later, on 19 January 1988, she passed and was buried in the Centennial Park Cemetery.
3. Fanny Cochrane Smith
Fanny Cochrane Smith was an Aboriginal Tasmanian leader and Indigenous cultural identity who was born in early December 1834.
At a young age of 12, she was already working as a domestic servant.
In 1876, Fanny asserted herself as the last remaining Tasmanian Aboriginal.
She and her husband, William Smith were one of the early converts to Methodism.
One of her contributions to Aboriginal cultural preservation is the wax cylinder recordings of her speaking and singing in early Tasmanian Aboriginal language.
This was the only valuable authentication of the Tasmanian Aboriginal song and speech.
On 24 February 1905, Fanny passed of pneumonia and pleurisy.
4. Joyce Clague
Joyce Clague was one of the most determined Aboriginal political activists of our time.
At a young age, she showed her defiance of the “erasure” of Indigenous culture by continuing to use her mother tongue, the Yagal language.
Joyce Clague was one of the most significant figures in influencing the 1967 Constitutional Referendum.
In the campaign, also known as the “YES” vote, Joyce encouraged many non-Indigenous groups to register and vote for an inclusive society.
Her tenacity and bravery advanced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. She is an admired Tidda Queen to all Indigenous communities due to her tireless work for social change.
5. Kirstie Parker
Strong and proud Aboriginal woman Kristie Parker is a Yuwallarai woman from the northwest of New South Wales.
Kirstie has had some amazing distinctions through her tireless work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Kirstie is the current CEO of the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE). Before her current position, she was the co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
She was also a former editor of the Koori Mail, a 100% Aboriginal owned newspaper.
Kirstie is a Director of Reconciliation Australia, an independent, not-for-profit Australian institution that promotes reconciliation through relationship building, respect and trust between the non-Aboriginals and the indigenous people.
Kirsite was named NSW Woman of the Year -- Aboriginal Woman of the Year category in 2016.
6. Shirley Colleen Smith
Famously known as “Mum Shirl,” Shirley Coleen Smith was an outstanding social worker and philanthropist who was dedicated to justice and welfare of all indigenous Australians.
Mum Shirl was one of the founding members on some of the most important Indigenous advocacy, health and social welfare boards, such as the Aboriginal Legal Service, the Aboriginal Medical Service, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the Aboriginal Children’s Service and the Aboriginal Housing Company.
Her advocacy in social welfare was focused on visiting Aboriginal prisoners, seeking shelter for children whose parents were unable to support them, and reuniting children with their parents from the stolen generation.
A story of how Shirley came to be know to all as "Mum Shirl" was that when she used to visit prisoners the guards would ask how she knew that particular prisoner.....she would say she was their mum and she would then be allowed to visit.
In 1990, Mum Shirl was named Aboriginal of the Year by NAIDOC. Mum Shirl passed on 28 April 1998.
7. Evelyn Scott
Evelyn Ruth Scott was an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social activist and educator. Evelyn is also Téa Devow's great Aunty.
Evelyn started her social justice career when she served on the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League during the 60s.
She was highly involved in the crusade for the 1967 Constitutional Referendum. Evelyn went on to be the vice president of FCAATSIm Federal Council for the advancement of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders; she pushed for FCAATSI to become an Indigenous-regulated association.
In the same period, Evelyn became active in the National Aboriginal and Islander Council. It was the first national Indigenous women’s organisation.
In the 90s, Evelyn was the governing head of the National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
Sadly, Evelyn passed on 21 September 2017 at the age of 81.
8. Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher
Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher, Thanakupi, or wattle flower, was her away, or birth ritual name.
At an early age, Thancoupie learned the sacredness of clay as she saw men in her tribe keep mud in a unique storehouse where kids were not allowed.
This made Fletcher recognise the clay’s spiritual connection to her culture, land, and language. Her interest with clay helped her become the first Aboriginal ceramic artist.
Her early years were spent as a pre-school teacher and part-time artist, and it was not until 1969, when in her mid-thirties, that she gathered the courage to move from her remote home in the Cape to the urban environment of East Sydney Technical College.
Dr Thancoupie, together with Tiwi potter Eddy Puruntatamerri, founded the Indigenous ceramic movement of Australia. Her intricately designed ceramic sculptures told old people’s stories from Weipa.
As a community leader she founded the Weipa Festival, and inspired many generations by running holiday programs to teach bush knowledge and art to younger generations
She was the first indigenous artist to have an international solo exhibition. Because of her artistic achievements, she was awarded Order of Australia in 2005.
9. Faith Thomas
Faith was a former cricketer, hockey player, and nurse.
She was the first Aboriginal woman to represent Australia in cricket.
She was also the first Aboriginal woman chosen in any national sporting team.
She was a superwoman as she was able to manage her cricket career while preparing to become a nurse in Adelaide.
Aside from having a successful sports path, Faith was the first Aboriginal to finish and become a certified nurse from the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Aside from being a successful cricket player, Thomas was also an outstanding hockey player, where she admitted that this sport has always been more important to her than cricket.
Because of Faith Thomas’ excellent sporting achievements, she became a member of the Aboriginal Sports Foundation. Faith is a proud Adnyamathanha women.
10. Rosalie “Ngarla” Kunoth-Monks
Rosalie is an Arrernte and Amatjerre woman born in Utopia, north of Alice Springs, in 1937.
Rosalie was an actress, Aboriginal activist, and a politician.
She became famous for her role in Jedda, making her the first Indigenous female lead.
Jedda was the first Australian film to be featured in Cannes. Jedda was also the first Australian film released in colour.
Making the film was an experience that would furthermore spark her advocacy in Aboriginal rights as the movie empowered her to stand up for her and her people’s freedom against the colonial outlook against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.
She has tirelessly fought for Indigenous rights, even going as far as trying to become part of the government by running as a Senate candidate in 2013.
11. Nova Peris
Nova is a famous Indigenous Australian athlete and activist.
She was a representative in the Australian Women's Hockey in the 1996 Summer Olympics.
She became the first Aboriginal Australian woman to become a successful athlete after winning an Olympic gold medal.
She proved to be a multi talented sporting star when she chose to switch to another sport, sprint, winning her another medal in 1997.
In 2013, she switched gears and changed careers to politics after being invited by Julia Gillard to join the Australian Labor Party, where she became a candidate for the Senate.
She reached another major milestone for the indigenous community when she was elected to the federal government, making her the first Indigenous woman to be elected to national parliament.
Nova is also Téa Devow's Godmother.