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Norman Tindale
Tindale holding a child from Monamona Mission in Queensland, 1938
Born 12 October 1900
Died 19 November 1993 (1993-11-20) (aged 93)
Nationality Australian
Citizenship Australian
Alma mater University of Adelaide
Scientific career
Fields Anthropology, archaeology, ethnology

Norman Barnett Tindale AO (12 October 1900 – 19 November 1993) was an Australian anthropologist, archaeologist and ethnologist. He worked for the South Australian Museum for almost 50 years. He is best known for his work mapping the various cultural groupings of Indigenous Australians.

He was born in Perth, Western Australia. His family moved to Tokyo in 1907, when he was a young boy. Norman was educated at the American School in Japan. The family returned to Perth in 1915, and then moved to Adelaide in 1917. Tindale got a job at the Adelaide Public Library. In January 1919, he got a job at the South Australian Museum as entomologist's assistant to Arthur Mills Lea. He had already published thirty-one papers on entomological, ornithological and anthropological subjects before receiving his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Adelaide in March 1933.

Tindale began mapping the cultural groupings of Indigenous Australians early in his career. His interest in this began during a research trip to Groote Eylandt in 1921–1922. On the island, an Anindilyakwa man gave Tindale detailed descriptions of which land belonged to his family and which land did not. This led Tindale to question the widely held belief among European Australians at the time, which was that Aboriginal people were nomadic and had no connection to any specific area. Tindale's maps have been superseded by more accurate ones.

After his retirement from the South Australian Museum, Tindale began teaching at the University of Colorado. He lived in the United States until his death, aged 93, in Palo Alto, California.


  • 1956: Verco Medal of the Royal Society of South Australia
  • 1967: Honorary doctorate from the University of Colorado
  • 1968: Australian Natural History Society Medallion
  • 1980: John Lewis Medal of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia
  • 1980: Honorary doctorate from the Australian National University.

Tindale was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1994, shortly after his death.

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