Yungkurra Billy Atkins
Yunkurra Billy Atkins - Kumpupirntily (Lake Disappointment) [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Yunkurra Billy Atkins talks about mining company's wish to mine at Kumpupirntily (Lake Disappointment), and how this is a danderous thing to do because of the Ngayurnangalku.
Art centre(s): Martumili Artists
Language spoken: English
Catalogue number: CSROH_283_Yunkurra_Billy_Atkins
Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on Use
Full transcript: Yunkurra Billy Atkins: I don’t like the people, you know them, young fellas, white fellas, pushing Martu to say ‘yes, you can go mine that place [Lake Disappointment]’. I tell them, ‘No, don’t push them to go over there to make mines. They might get killed. You have to be careful of the cannibal.’ I don’t like those sort of people to go push people, it doesn’t matter whether they get big money or not. Tell them to keep their money, we don’t want it. The bloke who is pushing and forcing you to go over to that place, tell him it’s dangerous. That Country is dangerous. We tell those young fellas [who did the heritage survey at Lake Disappointment that they are only young teenagers]. Those two young men who just finished school don’t know anything really. Don’t even know the full story for that Country.
[Yunkurra thinks that government wants to mine that place and is allowing the company to do that]
It’s no good. I am not going over there. It’s dangerous, that Country [Lake Disappointment]. When white fellas tell me to go there, I’m not going. I’ve seen that [cannibal] man, he’s there and I know it.
Gabrielle Sullivan: Who told you the stories about Kumpupirntily? Did your parents tell you the story about Lake Disappointment?
BA: They did. They told us, ‘when you go there, you’ll see a light. Only can go there when the wind can blow. When the wind is blowing we can go there, can go past. If the wind stops you can’t go any further, because he is there’. [when the cannibal man is there he blocks the wind] When the wind stops, it’s no good. That’s what the old people were telling us.
One of my grandfathers went there chasing a dingo and spearing that dingo. This other old lady near there close to Lake Disappointment. My grandfather went to Lake Disappointment, chasing the dingo and he heard an old woman making a noise like howling, but she was crying for that dingo [that Yunkurras grandfather was spearing and chasing]
[The cannibal was a woman, there are many cannibals, men and women. In Yunkurra’s painting, it’s a man. They are hiding in the cave, only one man and one woman come out at a time.]
So that woman grabbed his arm and put her very long sharp fingernail through his wrist at the base of his hand and paralysed him. She put her fingernail right through his wrist. Then that cannibal took him to a group of other cannibals, ready to cook him up to eat. They took him and had him there and they were singing him first [maybe celebrating for the food]. My grandfather is a strong maparn man. Lucky for him. He got out of there, because of his strength as a maparn [he may have changed his form, disappeared, etc] from there he just took off and never came back and that is why he told the story to me. He told his children and my mother and father told me [might be the father’s father, because that family’s Country is around Lake Disappointment]. They were trying to kill him and eat him. I’m telling you [Gabrielle] that that cannibal mob is out there and they are no good [dangerous]. That cannibal is no good for anybody, any people, never mind if it’s a maparn person, like my grandfather, or people who own that place and think they can go back there, but the cannibal is no good for any of the people who might want to go there [including whitefellas].
I don’t know how white people [the people who did the survey, just for a quick visit, not overnight, because they know it’s dangerous] go over there, maybe because the cannibal was in the cave at that time, or he was somewhere else on the lake. If they were to run into him he would eat them straight out. That Country hasn’t got any trees, it’s just open and flat. Kumpupirntily, that’s a no good place. I don’t know why people are talking about that place at meetings, but they shouldn’t talk about it, they should leave it alone and have nothing to do with it at all. Just leave it how it is. You are wasting my time now – I was painting!
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Yungkurra Billy Atkins; © 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.