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Kurtal

Story:Before Kurtal turned into an ancestral snake being and entered the 'living water' or permanent spring that bears his name, he was a man. In the words of Kurtal boss Ngilpirr Spider Snell: 'A big rain came. After the rain, grasses started to grow. From the grass Kurtal turned into a man.'

'Kurtal travelled to Jintirripil, a jila near the sea, who asked him to stay for good. Tricking him, Kurtal agreed. Jintirripil told Kurtal to find the jila Paliyarra, who had stolen his sacred objects.

'Paliyarra knew that Kurtal had come to steal back Jintirripil’s objects. He told Kurtal he didn’t have them but Kurtal could see the lightning flashing inside him. Paliyarra set his dogs onto Kurtal. Badly bitten, Kurtal tripped over Paliyarra, who spilled the objects on the ground. Kurtal kicked them towards his jila.

'Kurtal stole more objects from other jila, then went to visit his friend Kaningarra. Kaningarra asked Kurtal to stay with him there forever. Tricking him, Kurtal agreed, saying, "You lie down over there and I’ll lay down here.” Kaningarra went into the ground, turning into a snake, and Kurtal took off for his country.

'Getting weak, Kurtal crawled inside his waterhole with all his stolen objects and turned into a snake.

'That’s the song "Kurtal wanyjurla wanyjurla" we sing. He sent up a kutukutu [rain bearing cloud] like the ones I made at Kurtal.'

This is Kurtal's song:

'In the north-west I saw leaping fish sparkling in the sunlight. Carrying the sacred object I wade through the water. The waves carry me down to the depths. In the north-west I saw a seagull. The seagull was speaking. I saw lightning flickering in the north; I was the rain cloud. I am Kurtal. I bring the meat and make the country fruitful. The wind is wild, the lightning flickers in the sky. Up there Kaningarra is crying. The wind roars. I am Kaningarra, the great rock. Look to the south. That flat ground is sloping now. Who is that coming after me? I am a maparn [magic man] but I’m losing my powers. Look to the west. See his headdress.' (Ngilpirr Spider Snell)

Media Creator:Tim Acker

Media date: 2008
Story Location: Kurtal

Media Description:Kids all ready to perform Kurtal. Majarrka Workshop at Ngumpan Community.

Story contributor(s):Karen Dayman, Monique La Fontaine, Ngilpirr Spider Snell

Art Centre(s): Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0046_0001

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.

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.

Kinyu

Artist(s): Eubena (Yupinya) Nampitjin, Wuntupayi Jane Gimme

Date created: 2007
Art Centre(s): Warlayirti Artists
Size: 184x122
Medium: acrylic on linen

Artwork Story: That waterhole I paint is my own Country.
Eubena (Yupinya) Nampitjin, Nyarna (Lake Stretch), 2007

In 2007 Jane travelled to the Country where her mother and older sisters had grown up. Eubena and Jane painted this canvas together at Kilykily (Well 36). It represents the rock holes and soaks connected to Jarntu.

Location depicted: Kinyu / Jarntu (Well 35)
Place of creation: Well 36
Latitude/Longitude: -22.13954/125.28315

Artwork copyright: ©2013 Eubena (Yupinya) Nampitjin, Wuntupayi Jane Gimme
Catalogue ID: EN/JG/47/WA
Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on use

Photographer: Jason McCarthy
Photograph date: 2009-06-18
Photography copyright: National Museum of Australia
Format: Image
Category: Artwork

Artist(s) biography:
Eubena (Yupinya) Nampitjin
born about 1920, died 2013
Manyjilyjarra, Kukatja, Wangkajunga, Putijarra language groups
Nampitjin skin group
Balgo community
Warlayirti Artists
Eubena grew up around Jarntu and Nyirla. With her first husband, Gimme, she travelled north along the Canning Stock Route with the drovers. While raising their six daughters at Balgo mission, Eubena helped Gimme and a local priest compile a Kukatja-language dictionary. Eubena began a famous painting partnership with her second husband, Wimmitji Tjapangarti, and her paintings have inspired the work of many other members of her extended desert family.

Wuntupayi Jane Gimme 
born 1958
Kukatja language group
Nungurrayi skin group
Balgo community
Warlayirti Artists
Born at Tjumuntura, near the old Balgo mission, Jane is the eldest of Eubena (Yupinya) Nampitjin’s surviving daughters. Jane learned from her mother the stories of her Country and the ways of painting it. She is an active artist in her own right and more than once has been elected chairperson of Warlayirti Artists. 

Accession ID: 20131011_FORM_MIRA_B0044_0041

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.

Putuparri Tom Lawford

 

Putuparri Tom Lawford - effects of the Canning Stock Route [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Putuparri Tom Lawford talks about the effects the Canning Stock Route had on the Aboriginal communities who lived in that area.

Art centre(s): CSR Project, Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre
Catalogue number: CSROH_295_Putuparri_Tom_Lawford
Cultural Protocols: Public Access
Access: Public
Full transcript: Nicole Ma: So Tom, can you tell us a little bit about this Country? What it is to you? Putuparri Tom Lawford: This Country is Walmajarri Country. NM: You know your relationship to this Country, what used to be here? TL: I think it’s on my grandfather’s side I think. Grandfather used to travel up around here. Nyarna, a place called Nyarna. Most of the people who are living here other then my family. NM: And what did they used to do around here? TL: I don’t really know much about this Country, I don’t know what, back at the Goollong [?] area. NM: Coming on this trip, you know you have seen these wells, what do you think about that? TL: Good, yeah. Because all them wells, like I’ve been hearing the stories from old people talking about that Country. I’ve been hearing stories like when I was a kid. It like remind, bring back memories from them old people telling me stories. Most of them all dead. But where they used to roam. Meet other groups of people, other tribe. NM: So what did they used to do around here? TL: Well, there used to be free before roaming around till someone came around and started pastoral companies, bringing cattle in. And made them work for nothing. Building yards. NM: And what do you think about the Canning Stock Route, did it have an effect? TL: Yeah, yeah, it had an effect on people. It mainly people went everywhere and people went to Wiluna, family went to Wiluna another family come up this way. You got that artist from Tennant Creek. He from Dongara and he ended up in Tennant Creek from the Canning Stock Route. NM: So did it mix everything up? TL: Yeah, it mixed everything up. Families, you know, all got drifted apart, a long way apart. All because of a lousy stock route just to take cattle from here to Wiluna. NM: So as you came along here how did you feel about it? TL: Mainly looking at them wells. Them wells, they’ve been put in there by the Alfred Canning. But them wells were there before he ever existed. Aboriginal people knew about that water a long time before he came onto the scene. Without them people there wouldn’t be a Canning Stock Route. Because, he, I don’t know somehow forced them people to show him where the water was. So he made, shutting them up, starving them for water and let them go and track them. NM: So before that happened what was going on? TL: Brother was living in harmony. And along came this buddy with a big idea of opening up that Kimberly from here to Wiluna. Fuck everything up. NM: Could you talk a bit about what water means? TL: What it means is. Water is. Especially out there in the desert, it’s important because it’s a dry Country, you know, and people need the water to survive on hot days especially on a drought, people know where there is living water. On a good season there is rock holes, you know hills, soak water, but the main water was the other one that people used to hang on. NM: Can you explain a bit about living water? TL: Living water is like a story like in Dreamtime before snakes, they talk about rainbow serpent snakes and in Dreamtime they were human. They would travel around the Countryside making songs and stories and then they turned into a snake and get into the ground that where the water is, living water. Jila, we call him jila. NM: So that’s what you call living water? TL: Jila, living water yeah, jila. NM: So what happens if someone who doesn’t know the water comes to the water? TL: If you’re a stranger come through, stranger yeah, I don’t know. They probably get killed or eaten or something. Well there’s a snake in the water. Ah, but a lot of people out there they know what to do, you know? Other people who walk into another place they get a stone or chuck sand into the water or get a stone and rub it in their armpit. Chuck it in the water. And then they drink the water. NM: Then it’s okay? TL: Yeah. NM: But a lot of people don’t know how to do that? TL: Yeah, not these things. NM: And then what do you think happens? TL: I don’t know, there might be rain or be wind storm. NM: So when Canning came here he didn’t know any of these stories? TL: Nothing, he didn’t know where the water was. He wouldn’t know where to go. So the only way he knew where to go was to get guards, Aboriginal guards and chain them up. Give them tobacco anything just to pay them and get them to show him where the live water was. NM: So that couldn’t have been too good for the communities? TL: Well, because, yeah, he gobbled up, some water was sacred to people like Well 35, it’s sacred really, sacred to that mob up there. Other mob. Like some place that’s sacred to us but he didn’t give a shit. He wanted water. NM: Do you think they would have tried to avoid telling him? TL: At the time them guards didn’t know any English, only water. Only water, kapi, he keeps them kapi, he shows them where the water was. Only way he know where the water was he get them salt meat and starved them for water. And let them go and follow their tracks. Then water there. NM: So it must have been a big shock for all. Can you talk about all of the different Countries? TL: Yeah, all of them, like the people that were taken are from other tribe, gone into unknown area for them because the barrier was halfway. And he even take them in. Taking them into another area boundary for other language tribe. NM: But that map doesn’t show that on there. TL: That map doesn’t show that. If you go into another boundary a different boundary. You get killed you get speared. NM: So when that road started they must have got a bit of a shock? TL: Yeah, they got a shock. No road really only just cattle travelling through. Through every waterholes. NM: ‘Cause you come from a big, can you tell us a bit about your background? TL: My father is a cattleman, horseman. He used to take cattle from Christmas Creek to Derby. Or sometimes to Broome. He didn’t go up this track the Canning Stock route. He did that, Christmas Creek to Derby of Broome. NM: And is your family very involved in it too? TL: Yeah, we got a cattle station back home. The only person who is driving cattle out is a big truck, yeah a big truck driving cattle. On a bitumen highway. Them days are gone, horse taking cattle to other places. NM: And did that change things when that happened? TL: Yeah, it changed things, people got no. It made people feel lazy because no, they used to be real hard worker in those days. Been hards, waking up sunrise facing sundown riding all day. Not like this machine they just lay back you know. They just get on the piss and that’s it. NM: So do you think when the trucks came in that a lot was ... ? TL: It put them out of the business. They had drover, all drovers lost their job driving cattle. Even horsemen. Nowadays you don’t see anybody on horse mustering. You see this horse on the sky. Helicopter. NM: So what does that mean for your community? TL: Well, you got to pay more money for that horse in the sky. For fuel and his hours for flying up. Whereas when you’ve got your man on the horse on the ground. It don’t cost much, just pay the wages. But with the helicopter you have to pay the fuel pay the hours and everything. A lot of money. NM: What about jobs? TL: Jobs. NM: Are many people losing jobs? TL: Yeah, people losing jobs. NM: Is that why they are going into town? TL: In our other place we just use chopper now and then but not most of the time. We got horses. We go on horseback. Do what our father used to do. NM: So how do you feel, the difference between being here and in your Country? TL: I like it here, I like the bush. I think that’s where I belong really. We be outside on the ground you can see the stars. Because when you go in the town there’s nothing, cars, lights, drunks. But what I really wanted to see was the young people on the trip. So they can learn about their Countr,y their, area, where they come from. Or their grandparents. Father, mother, come from. NM: Why is it important? TL: It’s important because they are going to be the future some day. And all of the old people, what we have now, they won’t be here too long. One day they will leave us and they gotta carry on their stories, Dreaming and things like that. Is that what them will do. Listen and start going out on these kind of trips. NM: What do you think will happen when you lose all of the old people? TL: I think it will be sad. If only a couple of people like me going out on these trips is that enough? You don’t need one person you need plenty. The more the better. NM: So you think you need to get them out here? TL: Yep, anywhere you know. Not just on the Canning Stock Route. Where their um ... where their grandfathers come from. Grandparent come from. So they can learn their story. Well me I’ve been everywhere, [XX] back, [XX] back. I know from my stock. NM: So can you just explain what it is like for you going out there, for you? TL: For me, going out there for me is like I learn my culture and my history of my people. Where they come from, where they live. Where they work. And their stories you know. My grandfather told me stories. My nana told me stories about ... END
Source: CSROH_295_Putuparri_Tom_Lawford
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Putuparri Tom Lawford; © 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.

Wirnpa

Story:Wirnpa the proper boss. Rich. Too many money. Kartiya [white people] can’t get that. We got snake, jila. Can’t touch.' (Jawarta Donald Moko, 2007) Wirnpa was one of the most powerful of the jila men and the last to travel the desert before entering the jila, which bears his name, becoming a snake. Wirnpa’s adventures are celebrated in songs and stories of many language groups. Today, many of these people worry about proposals to mine the country around Wirnpa. Wirnpa was a rainmaker and the last of the jila men to walk around the desert in the Jukurrpa (the Dreamtime). After travelling far from his home, Wirnpa came back to search for his many children only to discover that they had already died. They had laid down and turned into the waterholes of the Percival Lakes. Wirnpa wept for his children and then turned into a snake and entered the waterhole that bears his name. Aboriginal people from language groups across the Western Desert know Wirnpa jila, even if they’ve never been there. The jila lies in Yulparija Country, but as a man Wirnpa travelled such great distances that the songlines which describe his journeys connect him to many groups. As an ancestral hero, Wirnpa is the keeper of different laws and ceremonies, and Aboriginal people from multiple language groups consider the place where he rests a sacred site. Jila like Wirnpa are formidable places, which can be dangerous if they are not approached properly. Aboriginal people enter jila sites ritually, sweeping the ground with branches, and approaching in single file. Elders call out to Wirnpa, announcing their arrival and introducing people who are new to the jila. For many senior people the experience of returning to their Country is highly emotional. 'Jila might make kartiya sick, make a big wind. We been tell him, “Don’t get wild, we all one family for you.”' (Jawarta Donald Moko, 2009) When the people who belonged to Wirnpa left the desert, some went north and eventually settled at Balgo, Mulan, Fitzroy Crossing, Wangkatjungka, Looma, Broome and Bidyadanga. Others went south and settled at Jigalong, Newman, Punmu, Parnngurr and Kunawarritji. Others still went east to Yuendumu and Papunya. Until recently, some of these people had never had the chance to return to their Country but today many people are taking their children and grandchildren to see Wirnpa for the first time. The songlines that pass through Wirnpa travel underground, imbuing the Country with power. The responsibility for these songs, and for the Country itself, is passed down from one generation to the next. Aboriginal people belong to the Country and are its caretakers; when they die, their spirit returns to their Country.

Media Creator:Curtis Taylor

Media date: 2010
Story Location: Wirnpa

Media Description:Martu elders bring their grandchildren to Wirnpa for the first time in 2009.

Story contributor(s):Jawarta Donald Moko, Monique La Fontaine

Art Centre(s): Yulparija Artists, Martumili Artists
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:DATE_FORM_MIRA_B0098_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.

Kulyayi

Artist(s): Milkujung Jewess James

Date created: 2007
Art Centre(s): Ngurra Artists, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Size: 118x103.5
Medium: acrylic on canvas

Artwork Story: They killed that jila for that water Kulyayi. They found him at his own waterhole and killed him. My people always used to see him outside the waterhole. Long time ago. We went there lately and I saw that there was hardly any water. Only little bit, enough for birds to drink. Before it was big. Water was full. This is my mother’s and grandfather’s Country, Kulyayi. This is how they slept in the cold weather. They made windbreaks out of spinifex and trees, and fire in the middle in the cold season.

Location depicted: Kulyayi (Well 42)
Place of creation: Ngumpan
Latitude/Longitude: -18.76861/126.03639

Artwork copyright: ©2013 Milkujung Jewess James
Catalogue ID: JJ/141/NG
Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on use

Photographer: Carly Davenport
Photograph date: 2007-11-19
Photography copyright: FORM
Category: Artwork

Artist(s) biography:
born about 1940s
Wangkajunga language group
Nakarra skin group
Ngumpan community
Ngurra Artists
My father said, ‘I’m not giving you my kids. You might take them to another place far away from here’. Milkujung was born near Paruku. When the priest at old Balgo mission attempted to put Milkujung and her sister into school, their father fled with them to Kurungal (Christmas Creek station). There Milkujung married Majarrka boss, Wirrali Jimmy James, and raised a family. Today she is a respected law woman in her community.
Artwork Diagram: kulyayi_jewess_james_detail_CORRECTION

Accession ID: 20131014_FORM_MIRA_B0045_0019

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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