Note: T.G.H. 'Ted' Strehlow

Much could be written about T.G.H. Strehlow. Although he was considered a member of the Arrernte tribe, he himself said that he was never initiated. He left Hermannsburg at 14 after his father's death in 1922 and went to school in Adelaide. After graduating from Adelaide University with Honours in English he returned to Hermannsburg on a grant from the Australian National Research Council to Study Aranda 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 (tjurungas) 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. He agreed and began systematically recording the religious beliefs, social systems and history of what was left of the songs, myths, chants, and legends of the Aranda 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.

Strehlow witnessed and recorded hundreds of sacred ceremonies, most of which are no longer practised. 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 a monumental work Songs Of Central Australia.

He died in 1978. Strehlow's career and his role as the custodian of Aboriginal secrets has been dogged by controversy which has followed him beyond the grave.