Jiwara Sarah Brooks, Mantyil May Brooks
Jiwara Sarah Brooks, Mantyil May Brooks - weaving, family, and Country [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Jiwara Sarah Brooks, Mantyil May Brooks talk about their family and Country at Kunawarritji. They also talk about learning to weave baskets from Nalda Searles.
Art centre(s): Martumili Artists
Language spoken: English
Catalogue number: CSROH_86_Jiwara_Sarah_Brooks_Mantyil_May_Brooks
Transcribed By: Ngalangka Nola Taylor
Location Recorded: Kunawarritji (Well 33)
Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on Use
Full transcript: May Brooks: My name is May Brooks. I live at Parnpajinya. I come to, I’m here now at Well 33, Well 33 is my father’s house, place. When I got up early, I feel that I’m right at home. We come here to do painting and baskets. Yesterday we went out collecting grass … and then I started painting. We went to Well 33 yesterday and saw where my father and my father’s mother and father they … next to the well on the other side was a soak where they were getting water from, because the windmill never was there before, only the soak. Now they’ve got a well and there’s a windmill working, and a tank there. Well 33.
Interviewer: Been there before?
MB: Only been there before on the trip on the Canning Stock Route, we kept on going to Well 36 [in 2007].
Interviewer: Heard about it when you were younger?
MB: Yeah, my father always talked about Well 33 and the place that he was born at, and 34, 35, 36. He grew up there, all around that well and here [Kunawarritji community] as well. He had no maya, just a soak, and went back to yonder, to Well 35. The family was all there and the family all started walking away, because of the droving mob was coming in taking them, so my aunty, my father’s sister she went north. Travelling with the drovers and went to la Grange, but she stayed around Sandfire, all the families stayed there and while they went to la Grange, stopped there in the mission. My father he stopped there and he came back here and then Punmu, then Karlamilyi and straight down to Balfour Downs, stopped there and went to Jigalong, because he had some of the mob with him. Aunty travelled with the drovers a long time, because she had another nyupa on the Warralong and Strelley side and that’s why she went, got her nyupa, stopped there a little while and straight up to Sandfire. Her home was in the Sandfire, next to that Anna Plains [station]. People showed me where she was camping before she went to the mission at La Grange, she had family there too.
My father talk about this Country all the time, tell me stories about Well 35.
Emmaline Schooneveldt-Reid: Did he miss his Country?
MB: No, he always come back here, in the middle of his trip he came back to Well 35 because he left his young brother there, but when he got there, his young brother wasn’t there, see the drovers took them, took him to Halls Creek way then, up north, he stopped around all those stations all around Fitzroy, come back to Halls Creek and into Turkey Creek where he stayed and he done a lot of art and he was very famous. He came down when I was young, we came here and at that time it was just only one house there, we were all there, he came down with his mob and put on a dance song for us.
ESR: You travelled up here with your father?
MB: No, I had to stay in the mission, when I was born there I was a bit sick so the missionaries, they look after me until I was the age of six, and went back so I had two daddy, one is white and one is my colour, and two mummy, and I didn’t want to stay with my own father and mother.
ESR: Song here and dancing here?
MB: Yes, I was here, I think I had two [children], a girl and a boy, two big ones. My uncle was here but not my father. That was a very happy time. My kids all know about this Country ‘cause I been telling them, this is your nyamu’s place and nyami’s place. This is my father’s place.
I tell my children we gotta go and stop at Well 33 ‘cause it’s nyamuku [grandfather’s] place, but my kids they don’t want to move, I don’t know. ‘Cause I can’t ... People been asking me to bring all my family here now, but I can’t, I was looking at my health.
(Time code: 11:30)
[recording is very quiet through this section]
Sarah Brooks: [XX] … All my brothers
(Time code: 11:55) [Additional Microphone activated]
He used to tell us to come here, it’s our Ngurra.
SB: Yul. He used to tell me it’s a good one, this Ngurra, good Country. He was telling me, one day we should all go there, sit there, all the families. A long time he lost his brother, palyuku [his] brother. They been took him away to Nyaparu Creek. He been looking around for his brother. They told him, “No he’s in Turkey Creek.” So he all went there one day, all the families, went and visit him. Oh he was really happy, and his brother that much he been missing him and they been all cry they were so happy to see him. They put on a good feed for us, all the meat you know, they made a big bullock meat, and came and put a dance on and with the leaves, they … with the bushes, you stand in the spark, you know, so you won’t get sick when you go back …
[XX- untranslated parts] [boil, you know?] [slapping with eucalypt leaves on your shoulders] so you won’t get marnta. Parlukumara And we left, came back to Jigalong. When we came back to mission, Dad had a bad wangka, his brother been pass away in Nyaparu Creek, it was really sad for us, we all went back for the funeral, took dad, we had a good funeral for him. We took all our families. We had a good funeral, never mind it was a sad time. All the Cruses and Dalbins. It was really lovely, bini time. After bini, we had a fishing, we camped there and some of them took us fishing, getting all the fish out, big ones.
ESR: This visit this week?
SB: I’m happy here in the old man’s place, good one. I’m happy. And I’m doing basket, I’m really happy you know, doing the basket, juri, this feel like the Ngurrato me, I got all the feeling, just like, ‘dad here’, ‘this is our home’, playa. Sitting all together.
ESR: When you’re making baskets are?
SB: Yes we feel him. When they tell us we gotta go home and I tell my kids too, I gotta go to my jamu’s [grandfather’s] place.
ESR: When people in the gallery look at your baskets do you want them to get a bit of feeling for this place?
MB: We were at Well 33 and right up to number 35 it makes me really feel, like [XX], comfortable, well, not really, my mind is going back to Parnpajinya, but Ngurra is here, right here, 33.
HA: How you learn the baskets?
SB: I learn Country-nga [at Jigalong], I learnt from kaparli [Nalda]. Palyulyu.
MB: [A note on the transcript here states, ‘Yinta Yalta. Kinyu and [XX] side ... Kumpaya] I saw Winta [Williams], how she was doing it. Me and Lorna just sit there and I said to Lorna ‘do you think we could make a basket?’ so we did that [but it was initially difficult]. Now I can just make it, back home I been doing it Parnpajinya I been doing five, more than five, we do plenty, sell it to all the walypela there and some Martu, especially Roslyn’s mummy, now I make two little ones and sell it [to CSR project]. Also make a little painting.
ESR: First time you’ve made baskets with grass from 33?
ESR: Good feeling?
MB: Yes. I got a grass from here.
ESR: Grass from your Ngurra?
MB: Yes, grass from my Ngurra, but that’s a really special grass that one, the old people been using it for their wama. They get all the wama, put it on their bowl, on their piti, and that fill it right up and all the juice goes back and shake it and take the old one out, put the new one in, press it down and throw it out again, all the old ones, until the wama is just a little bit high. And they get that special grass now, fold it up, fold it up, dip those grass in and suck it. That’s the way it’s more better to get that wama. Little drop of water [one inch], mostly it’s all wama. Juri. Because I watch my mummy what she was doing, all around Jigalong area.
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Jiwara Sarah Brooks, Mantyil May Brooks; © 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.