The last fluent speakers of Yidiny were Tilly Fuller (d. October 1974), George Davis (b.1919), Dick Moses (b.1898) and his sister Idea Burnett of White Rock. A substantial part of the language has been analysed and recorded by Robert M. W. Dixon.
The Yidinji lands were in lowland rainforest areas, stretching from Yarrabah down to the south, where their borders met those of the Ngajanji and the Wanyurr. To their north were the coastal Djabugay people. In Norman Tindale's calculation, the Yidinji tribal lands were estimated to cover some 400 square miles (1,000 km2). These included the areas of Deeral north to Gordonvale and Cairns. Their inland extension ran as far as Lake Barrine. Their eastern boundary was on the crest of the Prior Range.
The Yidinji were composed of several Clans, of which some names survive:-
The Yidinji, along with many other tribal people in the tropical rainforest areas from Cairns to Ingham, and the Atherton Tableland were cleared off their land to enable the establishment of cattle stations and sugar cane plantations. Jack Kane participated in some massacres as a youth and recalled, in 1938 one episode alone in 1884, during a week long campaign to round up the tribes, Queensland police and native troopers, encircled a Yidinji camp at what became known as Skull Pocket, several miles north of Yungaburra. At dawn, a shot was fired from one side into the camp to make them scatter, and then as they rushed into the ambushing forces elsewhere, were shot down. The native police then stabbed or smashed the brains of the children. One group of the Yidinji, broke off from the rest of the tribe in the early period of settlement, and after shifting to the area of the present-day Redlynch asserted a distinctive identity by calling themselves the Djumbandji. This segment took over a part of Buluwai territory.
Starting around 1910, even those who remained in the area of white settlement were the object of a Queensland government policy of shifting them into the Anglican mission at Yarrabah on the Cape Grafton peninsula. As each tribe was weakened by dispersal and fragmentation, the elders formed a counter plan in the 1920s to organize themselves into a more viable political unit, in the shape of a macro-tribe, but the merger failed to take hold, given the notable linguistic differences between groups.
In 2014, 40 members of the Yidinji tribe, led by Murrumu Walubara Yidindji (formerly Jeremy Geia) renounced legal ties with Australia to form the Sovereign Yidindji Government, claiming sovereignty over the lands from south of Port Douglas to Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands, including territorial waters reaching eastwards 80km in the Pacific. The government thus formed presented itself as similar to that of Vatican City. Indigenous activist and Professor of Law Megan Davis commented that there were no legal problems in the Australian government entering into a treaty with such groups. The issues were purely political, in her view.
- Yidindji, Yidindyi
- Idi (abbreviated autonym)
- Bolambi (from the personal name of one of the tribe's former alpha males)
- Mulgrave River dialect (Archibald Meston)
- Though Yidin is often given, the language has a final palatal nasal, not dissimilar to the Spanish ñ.
- Bottoms, Timothy (2013). Conspiracy of Silence (PDF). Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-743-31382-4.
- Dixon, R. M. W. (1977). A Grammar of Yidin. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-21462-9.
- Dixon, R. M. W. (1991). Words of Our Country: Stories, Place Names and Vocabulary in Yidiny, the Aboriginal language of the Cairns-Yarrabah region (PDF). University of Queensland Press. ISBN 0 7022 2360 3.
- Dixon, R. M. W. (2011). Searching for Aboriginal Languages: Memoirs of a Field Worker. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-02504-1.
- Dixon, R. M. W. (2015). Edible Gender, Mother-in-Law Style, and Other Grammatical Wonders: Studies in Dyirbal, Yidiñ, and Warrgamay. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-191-00742-2.
- Gribble, E. R. B. (31 March 1897). "Class systems. Class systems of the Goonganji,Myarah and Dungarah tribes, being tribes on Cape Grafton, Mulgrave River and lower Barron River". Australasian Anthropological Journal. Sydney. 1 (4): 84.
- Howden, Saffron (2 November 2015). "Murrumu Walubara Yidindji renounces citizenship to reclaim Australia". The Age.
- Meston, Archibald (1889). Report of the government scientific expedition to Bellenden-ker Range. Brisbane: James Beal, Government Printer.
- Tindale, Norman Barnett (1974). "Idindji (QLD)". Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. Australian National University Press.