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Yanpiyarti Ned Cox

Kiki and the pearl shell

Story:From the Dreamtime, [the ancestral hero] Kiki was coming from the sky, looking for a place to live. He came down near Paruku and went down in the water. 'Kiki felt hungry after travelling a long way and made plants and put them round everywhere. He made the plants grow. Plants you can grind to make flour, seeds, little grapes, some healing stuff too. He put all them frogs that people eat, bandicoots, blue tongue lizards, animals that used to live out there. What we still eat today is from that old fella. 'Kiki had a white stone in the Dreamtime and he tried to hide it in that big lake. But it kept on floating up. Bandicoot man came along and found that thing floating in the water. He stole it and threw it in the ocean near Broome. From there it turned into a pearl shell. That’s why Broome is rich with pearl shells. It [the pearl shell] started from Paruku. It didn’t want to hide.' (Yanpiyarti Ned Cox and Putuparri Tom Lawford, Ngumpan, 2008)

Media Creator:Nicole Ma

Media date: 2010
Story Location: Paruku (Lake Gregory)

Media Description:Men, women and children from Billiluna and Mulan communities perform dances for the ancestral creation being Kiki, who created the food and animals in the Country surrounding Paruku (Lake Gregory).

Story contributor(s):Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, Putuparri Tom Lawford

Art Centre(s): Paruku Indigenous Protected Area
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0046_0005

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.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.

Majarrka juju

Story:Majarrka is the name of a sacred ceremonial totem carved from the riymangurru tree. Riymangurru trees grow near Paruku [Lake Gregory] and around Yunpu. They are a hardwood used to make weapons and digging sticks. Majarrka is part of the law and Dreaming associated with the riymangurru tree and it has its own song and ceremony. The contemporary story performed in Majarrka juju [song and dance] has evolved out of this traditional ceremony but is based on a true event. It tells the story of two law bosses, Ned Cox’s father’s father, Wurtuwaya, and Tom Lawford’s mother’s grandfather, Wirrali, both of whom are now deceased. Wurtuwaya and Wirrali were travelling around near Paruku as wanya [‘featherfoot’, sorcerers wielding a similar power to maparn but whose work is concerned with payback rather than healing]. They were looking for their sacred Majarrka totem, which had been stolen from Jarrkurti, a place not far from Jalyirr and Yunpu, by a group of men who were performing their own ceremony with it. The men were dancing with the totem when Wurtuwaya and Wirrali found them. The two men were hiding as wanya as they watched the men perform. When the men turned their backs, the two bosses snuck in and retrieved the Majarrka totem. In Majarrka juju the dancers who wear the long headdresses (pukurti) represent the men who stole the Majarrka totem. The two dancers with the flat-topped headdresses (kumunungku) represent the bosses, Wurtuwaya and old Wirrali. 'I want to tell a story about this little stick, this one, kana [digging stick]. Long time ago kartiya [white people] been digging with [iron] bar, long way down, might be 200 feet [to make the Canning Stock Route wells]. Kana, kuturu [large hitting stick used for fighting] and makura [deep coolamon or wooden dish used for carrying water], all to get water in my language. 'This tree and me we been born in the same Country, the one Country. He’s got a meaning this tree. This is the tree now, the meaning. He got the culture, Majarrka. Riymangurru tree from Lake Gregory. That’s the tree, that Majarrka.' (Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, 2007) In this story Yanpiyarti Ned Cox draws a parallel between the sinking of the Canning Stock Route wells and the digging out of waterholes. The traditional hardwood tools and coolamons used to dig and scoop out mud are often made from trees that have important laws and ceremonies associated with them, as is also the case with Majarrka.

Media Creator:Tim Acker

Media date: 2008
Story Location: Paruku (Lake Gregory), Ngumpan

Media Description:Majarrka dancers get dressed and painted up at Majarrka Workshop at Ngumpan Community.

Story contributor(s):Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, Putuparri Tom Lawford, Monique La Fontaine, Karen Dayman

Art Centre(s): Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, Ngurra Artists, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0046_0002

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.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.

Aboriginal Drovers

Story:Long time ago, our father and our uncle all been droving to Canning Stock Road. Mustering cattle to delivery camp and delivering ’em to Werriado Yard, to Canning Stock Road. They been handling the cattle all the way along, drovin’ to Wiluna.' (Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, 2007)

Aboriginal drovers far outnumbered white drovers on the route, and their skill with stock was legendary. Because of this, head stockmen were often Aboriginal, but the boss drovers were always white. Aboriginal workers were referred to as ‘boys’ even though they were adults, and their names have rarely been recorded in non-Indigenous histories of the stock route.

Regardless of their skill, Aboriginal workers were paid at best ‘two bob [shillings] a week’, roughly equivalent to the price of a loaf of bread. Most often they were not paid in cash at all, but in food, clothing and tobacco. When equal wages were awarded to Aboriginal people in 1966, many stations evicted all of their Aboriginal workers.

Many Aboriginal drovers were women. Women also worked as cooks and camel handlers on the stock route.

'All the women were drover-men on Canning Stock Road. My sisters. Wally Dowling used to get all the people from Billiluna. Husbands and wives. Stockmen were properly women. They used to handle the bullocks too.' (Ngilpirr Spider Snell, 2008)

Sometimes women were expected to return to work in the saddle a day after giving birth. While Birriliburu artist Manga Margaret Long was droving, she had to look after her newborn baby, and also a toddler whose mother was too ill to care for him.

'Mum went up the Canning Stock Route. She had labour pains one night. I was born at Well 7 and she said, ‘Gotta go on the horse tomorrow’. Got straight back on the horse. I was in a little carrying bag so I could get some titty. Mr P (Billy Patch) was at the back of the horse, with a little dummy.' (Lena Long, Manga Margaret Long's Daughter, 2007)

Media Creator:Joe Mahood

Media date: 1968

Media Description:Harry Hall, Rex Johns, and Bob Sturt on Mongrel Downs Station.

Story contributor(s):Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, Ngilpirr Spider Snell, Lena Long

Art Centre(s): Other
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: Joe Mahood
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0097_0020

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.

Wally Dowling

Story:'They called him King of the Canning ...' (Jeffrey James, 2007)

Wally Dowling is probably the best-known drover in the Canning Stock Route’s history. Born in Northam in 1910, he began his droving apprenticeship in Meekatharra at age 14. He made the first of many trips down the stock route in about 1931, when it was reopened after reconditioning.

Wally Dowling’s colourful lifestyle appealed to the popular imagination, and he received a great many column inches in newspapers of the time. He inspired equally strong reactions among the Aboriginal people he worked with and encountered on the route — he was loved and loathed. Most of the artists, whose first encounters with white men took place on the stock route, vividly remember him.

'That old man Wally Dowling was the boss in Canning Stock Route. He don’t use ’em boot, just bare feet. He walked too much, every sandhill on that Wiluna road. He never been get sick. He was a good strong man. Strong man for walk.' (Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, 2007)

A bush poet, and emergency dentist and doctor to his stockmen, Wally once set his own broken leg with a cast made of greenhide (untanned bullock skin). He extracted teeth by tying them with string to an iron bucket and dropping it down a well.

But Wally Dowling was also known as a hard man, with his revolver ‘Little Bertha’ always at the ready. He reputedly robbed many Aboriginal men of their wives. 

'He had his revolver all the time. No smile on him. He been a rough bloke, and he wanted a black woman. ' (Anga Friday Jones, 2007)

In about 1941 Wally Dowling found a baby suckling its dead mother’s breast. One of his stockwomen fed the baby camel milk, and Wally named the infant Pelican because ‘his beak could hold more than his stomach’. By the time he was 16, Pelican was Wally’s head stockman. Wally found another child in 1953. Although initially unwilling to take him on, he changed his mind when the three-year-old put his arms around his neck. Wally named him Churchill. Wally’s son, Bob Stretch, grew up at Moola Bulla station with his mother, Lanyina. 

Wally’s death in 1959 marked the end of the droving era on the Canning Stock Route.

'Wally died in [Mistake] Creek; he had a bad flu. He went holiday with his camel. One of the tourists find that camel, took the hobbles off and ring to Billiluna, ‘Wally die!’ The camel walked all the way back. Halls Creek rang up, ‘Camel just going through!’ Next day, Ruby Plains rang up ‘They on their way to Billiluna!’ I was there. I open the gate. That it. The road was closed. No more droving. ' (Jeffrey James, 2007)

Media Creator:People Magazine

Media date: 1957

Media Description:Photograph of Wally Dowling in People Magazine, 1957.

Story contributor(s):Jeffrey James, Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, Anga Friday Jones

Art Centre(s): Other
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: People Magazine
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0097_0009

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.

Video Title: Ngumpan

Video Description: The Ngumpan workshop, which took place at Ngumpan Community east of Fitzroy Crossing in late 2008, revolved around the intergenerational transfer of cultural knowledge, and was one of the most transformative events of the project. Senior Ngurra artist Ned Cox, who had led the very first bush trip to Jilji Bore, was the instigator of this event. Coordinated by cultural advisor and senior translator Putuparri Tom Lawford, Ned and other senior men and women taught teenagers and children carving and ceremonial skills, and passed on the knowledge of important dances and body decoration to both young people and adults.
Four dances were performed by new generations at the Ngumpan workshop: little boys danced Kurtal, young men performed Majarrka and girls performed Mangamanga, all for the first time. One important ceremonial dance, Kaningarra, was revived for the first time in many years following the death of its custodian. The dance for Kaningarra, which is now Well 48 on the Canning Stock Route, was passed down to a new generation of Kaningarra people by elders from closely related areas.

Date created: 2009
People: Putuparri Tom Lawford, Pampirla Hansen Boxer, Ngilpirr Spider Snell, Hanson Pye, Lyle Carter, Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, Frank Clancy , Milkujung Jewess James, Wilfred Steele, Butcher Wise
Art Centre(s): CSR Project, Ngurra Artists, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency, Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre
Place of creation: Ngumpan
Latitude/Longitude: -18.7713/126.03602

Director: Clint Dixon
Editor: Chris MyIrea
Camera: Clint Dixon, Nicole Ma
Executive Producer: FORM

Rights: © Clint Dixon
Clip length: 0:05:48
Protocols: PUBLIC ACCESS
Format: Video
Category: Video
Accession ID: 20131011_FORM_MIRA_B0053_0001

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.

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