When Tracker Tilmouth died from heart and cancer complications in 2015 at the age of 62, longtime family friend Alexis Wright was part way through a project to write a memoir of the Aboriginal visionary.
A figure bigger than life itself, irreverent, quick-witted, loved and hated in equal measure, he was someone who enjoyed the highest influence in Australia and would bombard leaders, white and black, with his ideas of how to develop a sustainable Aboriginal economy to safeguard the future of Indigenous culture. This, he called, his vision splendid.
Tracker's life seemed an impossible story to tell, almost too big to be contained in a single book but Wright pushed on because she felt Australia needed to hear what Tracker had to say. ''It is important. It involves the future of Aboriginal people and our culture.''
Tracker didn't leave a trail of paperwork, his ideas were squirrelled away inside other people's heads and research, as Wright wrote in the introduction to Tracker, which on Thursday was named the winner of the 2018 Stella Prize.
The Miles Franklin Prize winner's unconventional approach to biography produced what the Stella judges described as a majestic and remarkable work of collaborative storytelling. Wright spoke to Tracker and those who knew him to create a weaving portrait of the Eastern Arrernte man, a member of the Stolen Generations and one-time director of the Central Land Council.