Name: Mayapu Elsie Thomas
Mayapu Elsie Thomas - Natawalu painting story [ORAL HISTORY]
Other Speaker/s: Milkujung Jewess James
Synopsis: Elsie Thomas tells a story about her painting of Natawalu, and how her uncle speared a white man. She also talks about spearing bullocks and how she got bitten by a dog.
Language spoken: Wankgajunga
Catalogue number: CSROH_57_Mayapu_Elsie_Thomas
Interviewed By: John Carty, Monique La Fontaine
Translated By: Putuparri Tom Lawford
Recorded by: Monique La Fontaine
Location Recorded: Ngumpan
Cultural Protocols: Public Access
Full transcript: Elsie Thomas: At Natawalu [Well 40] an Aboriginal man speared a kartiya [white man], then that kartiya got a rifle and shot him. Right langa (at) Natawalu. Before there was a well there, then [afterwards you could only get] water at that well.
From there, my daughter-girl [Rella Angie], she went and saw his grave on top of a sandhill. She saw her grandfather. She stood there with him, my daughter-girl. Missy’s daughter. Majija [Missy, bush name]. Yeah, that one now.
That’s the place I painted now. I painted a big water, then I painted trees on there too. That tree we called Juntuntu. Yeah that’s the one. [Why are you taking my picture? I’m sick.] I painted those trees, and that jila [spring] in the middle. Not jila, just rain water. Natawalu I painted, yuwayi [yes].
Jewess James: Where did you paint it?
ET: I did it over there.
JJ: Where is it?
ET: Inside Mangkaja, in Fitzroy. You mob saw it.
John Carty: Yuwayi [yes]. And that old man, how come he was fighting with that kartiya [white man]?
ET: No, he was just coming to get water. He wanted water then he saw that kartiya [white man]. He speared him then, near the water, you know. He speared him straight away. Blackfella started it first, then that kartiya got a gun and shot him. Finished, Kawurrjangunya’s father, yawi [poor thing]. My sister’s husband, Missy’s husband.
JC: He your uncle that old man, or what?
ET: Yeah. That old man, he speared that kartiya [white man], killed him.
JJ: What did Majija call him?
ET: Uncle. She called him Uncle. Majija called him Uncle. That’s her Uncle, he gave her to [her husband] Kawurrjangunya. Nyamu [that’s all].
Another story, alright: from where we walked from. From Jutalja then on to Milyarn, from Milyarn on to a place called Kurrkumarlu. That’s where a dog bit me. Where it is that he bit me was at Kurrkumarlu. That dog bit me, kunyarr [dog], you know, jarntu [wild] dog, he bit me when I was eating meat. Dog’s name was Larntiyn. He was a bushman’s dog, yuwayi [yes]. From there we used to walk until we came to the CSR [Canning Stock Route]. At the Stock Route we speared bullocks. That was where they travelled on the CSR, along the wells to Kulyayi, to what’s this place? Jumu [soakwater] Katajilkarr. From there on to Kujuwarri. At Kujuwarri we got too many larkarnti [witchedy grubs]. I boiled some in a billycan.
That’s where we used to spear bullocks. My father and Kuji’s [Rosie Goodjie] father and Yunkunya’s father. Somebody else’s bullock, they use to spear them. Cut ‘em up and bury some for later. They used to hide and then spear them. Have a big feed then go back to their Country, back in the desert. They used to cut across, spearing bullocks if they came across one, right back to jila [spring] well. Then they went to hunt local meats, traditional meats. That’s where we came from. Through that road to here.
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Mayapu Elsie Thomas; © 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.