Mantararr Rosie Williams, Mulyatingki Marney, Jakayu Biljabu, Ngalangka Nola Taylor, Morika Biljabu
Martumili Artists - Minyipuru (Seven Sisters) [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: This is the Minyipuru (Seven Sisters) story, collected from Martumili artists in Punmu, 2009, and collated and transcribed by Monique La Fontaine.
Art centre(s): Martumili Artists
Catalogue number: CSROH_287_Minyipuru
Transcribed By: Monique La Fontaine
Location Recorded: Punmu
Cultural Protocols: Public Access
Notes: This was recorded in transcript only by Monique La Fontaine asking Tom Lawford about the September 2008 Ngumpan workshop.
Full transcript: Minyipuru [Seven Sisters] story
The Martu story of the Seven Sisters originates in the Country around Roebourne and when they began travelling east on their long journey they were many more than seven. The Minyipuru were a big group of ladies including many sisters and mothers. At various places on their journey they lost members of their group until eventually only seven sisters remained.
This is the story told by Martu women, although in their words, ‘there are other stories for other sides’. Many different people have stories for Minyipuru.
The Minyipuru travelled close to Parnngurr where an important event took place in women’s law. From Parnngurr they flew to Kalypa, which is now Well 23. At Kalypa they met up with a large group of Jukurrpa men, the first time that men had ever seen women and women had seen men. The men tried to grab the ladies and the ladies chased them and hit them with their wana [hitting sticks]. Then they left, leaving the men lying there. There is a song and dance for this place called Marrkupayi and both men and women perform parts of the dance.
They continued dancing as they travelled to Katarru, now Well 24. And then they flew to Yurungu [on the eastern side of the CSR]. They flew from Yurungu and they turned and looked behind them and there was a group of other people, Niminjarra, who were travelling west. The Niminjarra were looking for Nganyangu’s wives, in a place called Pirrkanjil. Nganyangu became the bodyguard for Kumpupirntily, protecting people from Ngayurnangalku, the Jukurrpa cannibal people.
The ladies walked to Yurrunguny and Mungurlyi and then they flew to Nyipil, now Well 34, where they heard the sound of Kinyu howling. They heard Wulkartungara [a ladies’ song] and another song called Yaruparrupa. From Nyipil the Minyipuru flew to Yanjiwarra jurnu where they danced and near the desert oaks they left the mark of their dancing. The Minyipuru can be seen today as a group of trees between Nyipil and Kunawarritji.
The Minyipuru then flew to Pangkapirni between Wells 35 & 36, where the man Yurla who had been following them from Roebourne, finally caught up with them. The ladies watched him sleep and when he woke up he tried to grab one of them. The other ladies tried to help their sister escape, but they couldn’t free her. The ladies made Yurla collect wood for them and promised that they would stay with him. They teased him saying, ‘Come and get us!’ and he began to sing a man’s song and ran away happy, his heart was beating fast. But the ladies were tricking him and hid from him. They were floating in a long line in mid-air and he ran around trying to find their tracks. Finally they made a kumpu on his face, until he couldn’t see anything at all and then they were able to free their sister. Yurla couldn’t see anything, but he could hear the Seven Sisters giggling and laughing from somewhere above him. He got a janga, a ladder of wood, and tried to reach them but they just floated higher and then pushed the ladder over when he got too close. He became tired finally and fell down, crawling on his stomach. He crawled a long way and then slept, and while he was asleep, the Seven Sisters all flew away.
They took off flying to a place next to Lipuru, now Well 37, called Lurrungpungu where eventually Yurla caught up to them again. It was here that he tried to grab five of the ladies. From here the Seven Sisters took off again flying to Lunpu and then Majarral and then on to Marapinti near Kiwirrkurra where there are rocks sitting up like ladies. The ladies had a feed at Marapinti and then pierced their noses; this is what the word marapinti means.
Some of the other places where the Minyipuru stopped on their journey to Marapinti include Wantili claypan (near Well 25) and Tiwa, (Well 26). From there the ladies flew on to Jurntujurntu, (Well 30). Kukulyurr is a permanent water where the Minyipuru sat down to rest before travelling onwards. They also rested at Juntiwa [going west, towards Telfer] and at Pangkaringka and Karlajaru. They landed at Juntiwa when they were coming from Pangkaringka and they also stopped at Natawalu before continuing on their journey. They also stopped to rest at Kukulurrpa and Jarnu warla [a lake]. At Pankarlpa the man who was chasing the Seven Sisters caught one of the ladies.
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Mantararr Rosie Williams, Mulyatingki Marney, Jakayu Biljabu, Ngalangka Nola Taylor, Morika Biljabu; © 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.