Non-Indigenous name: Well 48
Place description: In 2008 and 2009 Kurtal boss Ngilpirr Spider Snell and Jukuja Nora Tjookootja led the revival of Kaningarra juju. With Rosie Goodjie, Dolly Snelll, Nada Rawlins, Jewess James and Daisy Andrews they passed the song and dance for this Country to a new generation for the first time since the death of Donkeyman Benny, the last Kaningarra boss. Jukuja was promised to Donkeyman as a child, and in accordance with desert tradition, he ‘grew her up’ and cared for her as his future wife until she was old enough to be married. Throughout their marriage she learned the songs and ceremonies for Kaningarra.
Traditional knowledge: Kaningarra was never performed for a long time, so what we did at Ngumpan was get the old fellas together and we talked about trying to get Kaningarra back, the dance, the songs. There’s only one old fella [Spider Snell] who still knows how to sing that song as well as the old ladies. All the bosses for Kaningarra have passed away. Spider wanted to pass it on to the rightful owners before he passed away … All the old people been singing it and teaching it to Pampirla [Hansen Boxer] because he’s a Kaningarra man and he can carry that on. Old ladies been crying. It was like they were bringing something back from the dead. Spider’s a Kurtal man. We need to keep that carrying on because Kaningarra and Kurtal are like brothers in the Dreamtime. (Putuparri Tom Lawford, 2008)
My father been tellembut [telling] me, ‘My Country Kaningarra’. He been looking after that place. We still looking after that place. Long time married but today we single now, looking after Country and story, old people time. When we go there la [to] Kaningarra we always cry [for] Country, me and my sister. When we go there we sing this one, ‘We been come visitor for you’. We say with that snake, ‘The family been come for Walmajarri [side]’. The colour change, that hills, orange, yellow, brown, every afternoon time.
[In the Dreamtime] that two Nangala [sisters], twofella been looking for louse [in each other’s hair]. That Tjungurrayi, [their husband, came back from hunting and they hadn’t cooked any food for him. He] been go round and he been tell ‘em, ‘Eh! You can look ‘em this!’ Boomerang, it was throw. One [sister] been fall, and nother one been sitting down, been slip down. He been throw that boomerang this way from Piparr [south east of Balgo]. That two my sisters, that two Nangala now. That Dreamtime. They turn into that pamarr [rock, Twin Heads]. I been get that word from my father before he passed away. Teaching us story. (Nana Daisy Kungah, 2009)
Kaningarra was a great jila man, and a powerful maparn [magic man] who turned into the spring Kaningarra during Jukurrpa, this then became Well 48 on the Canning Stock Route. Kaningarra is a major rainmaking site.
As he was nearing the end of his life as a man and preparing to enter Kaningarra jila as a kalpurtu, an ancestral rainbow snake, his powers were beginning to wane. Kurtal jila had been travelling across the desert to the coast visiting other jila men and stealing their sacred objects. On his way home to his own jila, Kurtal stopped to visit his friend Kaningarra.
That jila Kaningarra was waiting for him. Kurtal and Kaningarra are yalpurrus. They’re mates. Kaningarra told Kurtal, ‘Let’s lay down here then we can be together [as kalpurtu].’ Kurtal tricked him and said, ‘You lie down over there and I’ll lay down here.’ Then Kaningarra went into the ground and turned into a snake, kalpurtu, and today that waterhole Kaningarra is still there. Kurtal kept on going, carrying all them stolen objects in a coolaman to his country. (Ngilpirr Spider Snell, 2007)
'I am Kaningarra. Standing in my Country, I look to the south.
'What is this thing chasing me? I’m a maparn [magic man] but these devil dogs are frightening me. I hit them with my powers.
'Streaks of lightning are flashing in the distance. A storm is gathering all around. Lightning is flashing on top of the hills like fire, I hide underground. A waterhole forms in the earth.
'A storm cloud is raining in the distance but it is coming closer. Lightning strikes on the hill. Another waterhole is formed from the sky.
'The storm is approaching from the north-west, sprinkling lightly like mist. It rains a little bit.
'In the north, a Jangala man looks out, standing on one leg near the sea. He is painted up, carrying a spear and a boomerang. He drinks the rainwater and dances back and forth, bringing the song from the north.'
In addition to the main song for Kaningarra Jila, other rainmaking songs, such as this one, converge here:
'Kitil and Wiyirr birds migrate towards the storm, bringing the rain.
'Puddles form, little streams run on the groud. People walk through pools of water.
'Rain makes the waters run like a river. Foaming up, the waters meet and flood.
Well data: 1906 water quality: Excellent.
1906 total depth (m): 20
Current quality of well: Derelict, caved in.
Current quality of water: No water.
Related art centre(s): Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency, Ngurra Artists, Paruku Indigenous Protected Area
Media title: Jila Kaningarra
Media creator: Nicole Ma
Media description: This video shows Pampirla Hansen Boxer performing Kaningarra at Ngumpan in 2008. In this section of the dance, Pampirla Hansen Boxer enacts Kaningarra as he fights off an attack by devil dogs.
Media Copyright: FORM
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0089_0003
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.