News, Culture & Society

Aboriginal school in Northern Territory is shut down because of a curse

  • Angurugu School on Groote Eylandt island off the Northern Territory shut down
  • Curse was placed on it and locals refused to attend class since May 18
  • Only person who can lift it with a smoke ceremony has been off the island
  • He arrives back on Thursday and education officials hope it will then reopen

The Color Toner Experts

A public school has been closed for two weeks because locals believe a curse was placed on it and won’t return until it’s lifted.

Angurugu School on the remote Groote Eylandt island off the Northern Territory shut down on May 18 along with the local Centrelink office.

The supposed curse could only be lifted with a smoking ceremony but the only person who could do it was not on the island.

Angurugu School (students pictured with visiting sport coach) has been closed for two weeks because locals believe a curse was placed on it and won’t return until it’s lifted

The school (students pictured) on the remote Groote Eylandt island off the Northern Territory shut down on May 18

The school (students pictured) on the remote Groote Eylandt island off the Northern Territory shut down on May 18

Education officials worked overtime to try to get the school reopened, without success, and hoped the appropriate person would return on Thursday.

‘Angurugu School has not been operating since May 18 out of consideration of local Aboriginal cultural obligations,’ the NT Education Department told the NT News.

‘Schooling is expected to resume on Thursday May 31 following a smoking ceremony conducted by the Anindilyakwa Land Council.’ 

The local council spent the time working with Groote Eylandt’s elders to get residents to ignore any future curses put on the island’s buildings.

Angurugu's 165 students, who have now missed a fifth of the school term, have one of the lowest attendance rates in the Territory at just 30.5 per cent

Angurugu’s 165 students, who have now missed a fifth of the school term, have one of the lowest attendance rates in the Territory at just 30.5 per cent

It was unclear who put the course on the school and Centrelink, why it was placed, or what would happen if it was ignored.

Angurugu’s 165 students, who have now missed a fifth of the school term, have one of the lowest attendance rates in the Territory at just 30.5 per cent.

The curse came two years after the school’s kitchen burned down in a fire in April 2016 that police suspected was deliberately lit.

The school and community of about 850 had better news in November when local teenager Travis Kennell because the first student to graduate year 12 in generations.

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