Jagamara was born at Vaughan Springs in the Northern Territory in the year 1949. He first saw white men at Mount Doreen Station and remembers hiding in the bush in fear. Michael lived at Haasts Bluff for a time with the same family group as Long Jack Phillipus Tjakammara. Later his parents took him to Yuendumu for European education at the mission school. He left school after initiation and worked pig shooting, driving trucks, droving cattle and was in the Army before coming back to Yuendumu and then to Papunya to settle and marry his current wife. He moved to Papunya in 1976 and worked in the government store and observed the work of many of the older artists for many years before he began to paint regularly in 1983. Michael Nelson had inherited key responsibilities for many sacred sites and rituals from his father, an important Warlpiri Medicine Man at Yuendumu. The Warlpiri were deeply concerned about the painting movement that had begun at Papunya and, while he worked in the government store and for the council, he observed the work of the older artists with interest. Despite the Warlpiri elders’ opposition to committing their sacred designs to canvas, the financial benefits were becoming increasingly evident to many of the far-flung desert communities.