Respected Kuku Yalanji elder, Wilma Walker, died in Mossman on May 28.

Wilma, who had twelve children and many grandchildren and great grand-children, was well known and respected for her ability to live in the traditional world of her people whilst involving herself and her family in the wider, non-indigenous community.

She was an advocate for the preservation of traditional language, knowledge and cultural practices, particularly the weaving of delicate black palm baskets, some of which have found their way into southern homes and distant museum collections.

As a very young child she remembered being hidden in one of these baskets when police came looking for “half-caste” children (her father was Indian) to move to settlements and foster homes.

At a funeral service held in Mossman yesterday, attended by more than 450 mourners, her descendants and friends sadly said their farewells.

Wilma was a friend to many, a gentle woman whose quiet presence will be greatly missed.