Minyawe is a Warnman man born at Yilyara, a yinta (permanent spring) located on the border of Punmu Aboriginal community and immediately east of Nyayartakujarra (Lake Dora). Minyawe grew up in the Kulyakartu and Karlamily (Rudall River) regions with his sister Kanu (Karnu) Nancy Taylor (dec.) and their extended family.
As a young man, Minyawe lived a pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) lifestyle and walked long distances carrying only his jangi (smouldering stick) and his jurna (hunting stick). By the 1960’s the last of the Western Desert pujimanpa (desert dwellers) had relocated to Jigalong, Marble Bar, Nullagine and Port Hedland; “When all people gone, everybody, I’m come last one. Looking around, looking for people. Nobody, nobody there… My family all gone to Jigalong, Marble Bar, Nullagine, all stations. They been working the station, working sheep, bullock; march them to Meekatharra, put them in the truck. I gotta go to family, gotta find them” (Minyawe Miller). Minyawe and his family collectively came to the decision to walk in from the desert, and after travelling hundreds of kilometres on foot they were finally collected by a truck that drove them to Jigalong Mission.
At Jigalong Minyawe met his wife Nyanjilpayi (Ngarnjapayi) Nancy Chapman, and from there the couple lived and worked together on several cattle stations throughout the Pilbara. Minyawe was an excellent horse rider and breaker. Later, at newly Aboriginal owned Strelley station Minyawe worked building roads and running the station. He relocated with his family to Punmu Aboriginal community as a foundational community member during the ‘Return to Country’ movement of the 1980’s, and lived there for many years before moving between Newman and Port Hedland in more recent times.
Minyawe paints great stretches of his Country in a very distinctive, precise style, creating beautiful undulations of linear forms using a limited range of mark making and colour. Minyawe’s work was selected for the Western Australian Indigenous Art Award in 2013, and has been exhibited since the inception of MMA in 2006 in galleries throughout Australia, in Singapore and the USA.
Born c. 1932
Photo taken by Tobias Titz