Katapi Pulpurru Davies
Katapi Pulpurru Davies - life, Country, and family [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Pulpurru Davies talks about hunting for food, seeing whitefellas for the first time, being filmed by Dunlop, and Matjiwa. Pulpurru also talks about her Country and family.
Art centre(s): Kayili Artists
Language spoken: Nyaanyatjarra
Catalogue number: CSROH_61_Katapi_Pulpurru_Davies
Translated By: Lizzie Ellis, Jan Mountney
Location Recorded: Patjarr
Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on Use
Notes: There were some additions and corrections made to this transcript when permission was gathered on 29 May 2009. These changes have been incorporated into this transcript.
Full transcript: Pulpurru Davies: We went and lived there at Patjarr rock-hole when there was no water. We lived there for a long time.
From Tarrtja we came and we lived here a long time at Patjarr. After a long time we saw a white man who came. Who was that white man who came here with lots of food?
We used to eat the food given by that white man for quite some time. We looked after him here. We were all living together here for a long time, that white man and us. He also had a vehicle.
John Carty: We are sitting here with Pulpuru in Patjarr on April 21, 2008 and she’s going to tell her story about living in the desert.
PD: Who was that white man who was here? The one who was giving us food? He used to give us tinned corned beef, sugar and tea leaves. He lived right here and we lived there. We all lived together in the creek. We looked after him for a long time. He was here a long time. We used to get up in the morning and put our carrying dish on our heads and walk off. He [Dunlop] used to film us from behind. That white man filmed us as we gathered fruits, grains, and berries. That other lady and I and the children used to collect food and he used to film us. We would dig for small game, dig the animals from the burrow, kill them, pick them up and walk off. We were always tracking game and killing it and collecting it and gathering berries, grains and fruits. We would track the animals as the tracks entered a burrow, dig the burrow, kill them and walk off. We used to collect desert raisins, collect all the desert raisins and put them in the shade. We would go out foraging and return to our home right there.
That man making the movie stayed here a long time and later on he went back home. We put him on a plane. There was an incident when Dr Gould was here and ceremonies were taking place. Dr Gould was involved in the ceremony and I strongly objected, saying, ‘He is not here to be involved’. That was settled.
We had lots of bush tomatoes and we were seeding them and eating them. We also seeded them and threaded them on long sticks (like satay sticks). We made quite a few like that. When we finished doing the threading, we went off again to collect more. We came from that way and collected all the bush tomatoes. For a long time we collected them and came back to camp to sleep. That man, Dr Gould, stayed with us a long time. Then my brother, now deceased, who used to be married to Manalingku said, ‘I don’t want to get into trouble’, so they put Dr Gould on a helicopter and sent him off and he went on the helicopter all the way to Kalgoorlie. This was in relation to ceremonial business. My husband was involved in getting Dr Gould on the helicopter and out of possible trouble. We used to all live together, eat together and Dr Gould slept near us, on the opposite side of the fire.
Matjiwa’s father, my brother, and Mr. Giles used to spear a hill kangaroo and it would fall to the ground and they would pick it up and gut it. All my brothers and Mr. Giles used to do that when they were young men. That’s what we used to do. We lived in this Country hunting animals and foraging for food. Then we would pack our things up and would go to another place. We would walk down towards the low-lying flood plain where water from high ground was lying. We used to go there and hunt rabbits and later come back up and go across and set off for Tarlarla rock-hole. Yakuri [another name for Tarlarla] rock-hole is over that way too, and Patjarr rock-hole. These are the places where we used to live, hunting animals and foraging. We used to always go hunting, always hunting, collecting bush tomatoes, seeding them and threading them on sticks. We used to do the seeding and the threading out where we collected them. Then we would put them in our wooden bowls and carry them home on our heads. At home we would eat all the bush tomatoes and next day would get up and go again. In the afternoons, like this time, we’d be out there, walking around, hunting, tracking animals and killing them. Tracking animals and spearing them.
I was born north of here at Untaru. I’m not exactly sure where it is. My mother didn’t see me. We used to go down to that low-lying Country, to the lake, and hunt there. Then go back home. Everyone would be heading home, all the ladies with carrying dishes on their heads, full of small game. Unfortunately, some of my family had died and were not with me at that time, so I used to walk around by myself or with other extended family, hunting and eating what I had gathered or killed. I used to say at the start of the day, ‘You lot go that way and I’ll go this way’. Then I used to go and get bush tomatoes and seed them. Then I’d keep going from that bush tomato area. I used to go hunting with my sister, the mother, oops grandmother, of this child sitting here. Tjarnangu, Nyurrpaya and someone else and I used to hunt together. We were always travelling round together, hunting and foraging.
After that time when we lived there, I can’t remember where we went next. That’s right, we used to live there close to Tarrtja and then we were given bags of flour there. So we got the flour and all our things and went to Patjarr. Maramutu [missionary] brought all that flour and he gave us some. When we first got the flour, we didn’t know how to cook it and we made a few mistakes. Then we learnt.
One day I went to collect seeds of ngukurrpa while Marnupa and Tjungupi went for kampurarrpa [desert raisins]. I collected the seed, thrashed it, winnowed it and brought it home and put it down. I was sitting down and I heard a growling noise. I thought it was an animal but it was Dr Gould in his car. The noise would increase as he drove up and over the hills and then stop when it was in the dips. He came close to us in the car and when he arrived, he gave us food. Sadly, in the morning, he left. The next day, Marnupa and Tjungupi were vomiting and I asked, ‘Why are you sick?’ Some people, when they started eating flour, a food new to them, were sick. But others, like me, were not affected. When Dr Gould gave me flour, I used to carry it around from camp to camp and use it. We used to carry everything we had, our own things and the food given to us by Dr Gould. We used to pick it up and carry it to the next camp. Some people, who were wary of the flour, gave it to others to use.
We used to always do these same things all the time. Walking around in our Country to the same water-holes, making camp, hunting, foraging. From here, we would always go that way, come back here, go round, and walk up that hill, down that gully. I would go way over that way for a long time and then I came back. We used to go to Karlipi creek bed and dig for water and when there was nothing there, we would go on. We used to come down this way, from Karlipi, walk along here and then go down that ridge to the low Country. There’s a path there where we went in and out to Karlipi soakage. We used to always walk around in that Country, always going to water-holes, collecting bush tomatoes and recently with the CALM [Conservation and Land Management] people, we went out to Mina-mina where we cleaned that rock-hole. All the CALM staff were there with us. My memory isn’t very good. I’m getting forgetful.
We used to always live here, around in this Country. We’d go off separately and meet up at different water-holes. We’d live in one place all together for a long time and sometimes we’d go off together to another water-hole, but always the same water-holes in our Country. Have you seen Patjarr Creek, the big river? There’s no water in it at the moment. The camels can’t get a drink. When people went hunting hill kangaroo, the first one would be gutted there where it was speared and then the other hill kangaroos would smell the stomach contents and come down from the rocks to investigate. They would think that it was fresh grass that they could smell. Sure enough a couple would come down and also get speared. People speared the hill kangaroos when they came down for water. My brother was one of the men who used to spear them. He’s passed on now. Many who have passed away were the ones who did the spearing. Sometimes they would go out in different directions and then hunt back towards each other.
Once, long ago, all the old people were fighting with lots of spearing and hitting. My young brother speared one of our uncles and ran away to Papunya because he was ashamed. I’ve got four uncles; one is buried quite close to here. I’ve got three brothers, Lana Porter’s grandfathers.
Lana’s grandfather would go up hunting for hill kangaroos in the late afternoon when they were lying in the long afternoon shadows. I used to hunt too with a rifle. I used to climb up and walk around on the ridge with a gun and I’d look for the kangaroos’ legs stretched out. I’d put the bullet in the gun and shoot. Once I was walking along and saw the legs. I put the bullet in and ‘Bang!’, but I missed.
We used to go down here, following the creek and keep going. We’d follow the creek along, and go round towards the water-hole. We’d sit down and have a long drink, splash ourselves and then go to sleep. Marnupa’s mother and my mother were always walking around with us.
Sometimes we would be hunting and there would be an argument, or we would hear news of a death and we’d cry in the bush. But we still lived together. Sometimes we would go off in separate groups and then later get back together again. One time we went to Kunpurangu after my grandfather died. We went there and joined up with another family group there and then went to Wuurnmankunyangka. We used to always live and walk around in the bush, going from water-hole to water-hole. It’s only now, in recent times, that we’ve been living in communities. Some of the water-holes we used to live around are: Ngamurru, Kunpurangu, and Kurrkapitjarra. I only travelled around to all the water-holes and Country that belonged to our family. We didn’t go beyond Country that was ours. Yes, we used to live in our Country.
We lived there for a long time and then we went to a place with houses, Warburton. We lived there in Warburton. Tikatika is one of the other rock-holes in our Country. Once, we put a lot of bush currants in a dish up in a tree and then forgot and left it.
Video format: miniDV/DVD
Video recording: 150 NOLA CAMPBELL & PULPURRU DAVIES
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Katapi Pulpurru Davies; © FORM, transcript only
Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.