Major Sumner, Uncle Moogy, has a deep connection with river and country as a Ngarrindjeri Elder

with traditional ownership of the great southern wetlands region around Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, the Coorong and Murray Mouth. 

For the past three years Major Sumner has organised Murrundi Ruwe Pangari Ringbalin (River Country Spirit Festival), a journey of healing from the top end of the Darling River to the Murray Mouth involving the Kooma people from southern Queensland; the Nyemba from north-western NSW; and Ngarrindjeri. Each night of the ten day trip, local Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are invited to join a ceremony of dance and song, culminating in a closing ceremony at the Murray Mouth.

The bark canoe is a significant watercraft for Ngarrindjeri people. Major Sumner grew up watching his grandfather building boats and fishing on the Lakes and in the Coorong. In 2010, he travelled to the south east of South Australia to build a traditional bark canoe on a property at Kalangadoo, north of Mt Gambier. The making of this canoe was documented in the award winning film, ‘Moogy’s Yuki’.


In 2011, funding has been received to build three more canoes along the Murray River. Major is working in different locations teaching the traditional art of canoe making to young men and women from different communities along the river. It will also be an opportunity for these people to learn a traditional canoe dance that has been passed on to Uncle Moogy.
In May 2012, along with other Indigenous watercraft makers from around Australia, Major Sumner will present at the National Indigenous Watercraft conference to be held at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney. In October 2012 he will performance and presentation of the three canoes at a gathering at the Murray Mouth.

Major Sumner can be contacted at or 0413 276 091.

The following links provide further information and images on the work of Major Sumner:

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