10 May 2023

Kowanyama cultural icon leaves long-lasting legacy

| Sarah Martin
Start the conversation

The late Vivian Sinnamon (left) will be missed in Kowanyama and across the Cape.

KOWANYAMA is mourning the passing of local Elder and respected scholar Vivian Sinnamon, who worked tirelessly to preserve Indigenous culture and history.

Mr Sinnamon passed away suddenly last week, with tributes pouring in from across Australia for the renowned bushman, anthropologist, cultural leader and artist.

“Viv’s contribution to cultural and environmental retention, conservation and regeneration in the Kowanyama region was enormous and his commitment never wavered over the 50 years he has been living and practicing there,” said close friend Bernadette Boscacci.

Mr Sinnamon would be remembered also for his humour, compassion and humbleness, she said, as well as being a friend and mentor to many.

“A beloved father, grandfather, uncle and brother to many, he was a respected Elder, consulted with and revered for his deep and profound knowledge of country and the environment,” Ms Boscacci told Cape York Weekly.

“He was my first friend when I arrived in Kowanyama.

“Viv was often the first point of contact for visitors through the Kowanyama Lands Office and then the Kowanyama Culture and Research Centre.”

Mr Sinnamon, who had a degree in human geography and studied anthropology, worked tirelessly in collaboration with the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council to build an impressive collection of repatriated artefacts from all over the world, creating the Kowanyama Collection to tell the story of the local people.

“Kowanyama doctor Lara Wieland described him as a keeper of incredible volumes of knowledge.

“This knowledge had taken him around the world to learn more, teach and connect his beloved Kowanyama with the globe, yet he never boasted about this and was so unassuming and humble,” Dr Wieland said.

“Through learning them as a young man and passing them on he helped revive and save many traditional arts and crafts, in his own time and with no wish for reward; he dearly loved his family, and his children and grandchildren were especially precious to him.

“He leaves a gaping hole in the community and in the hearts of many.”

Mr Sinnamon is remembered by family in Kowanyama, Bundaberg, Gin Gin and Binjour, and friends across the globe.

Start the conversation

Cape York Weekly

Subscribe to get the latest edition of Cape York Weekly in your inbox each Monday.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Cape York Weekly's terms and conditions and privacy policy.