We have an important story to tell. It is a new tjukurpa (dreaming story). It is a story about our culture, our faith and our relationship with our land. This is not a story that our grandmothers or grandfathers told us. This is our story - Kapi Ungkupayi. It happened to us. It is a true story, mulapa.
In January 2013, five senior women from Irrunytju and Papulankutja went out bush looking for punu (wood for carving) and ran out of petrol. They had no water or food and weren’t found for five days. They survived on five perentie (goanna) and water, which they dug for along a dry riverbed.
There was only one white cloud in the sky. It followed us and showed us the way to the water. They were digging in that wet sand with a stick but nothing came so they called for us to bring a crowbar. Our lips were dry. And we were thirsty. We took turns digging. It was dark and the sun went down and we were still digging. We collected that water in every bottle we had. And the billy can. When we found water we made a big fire. But no one saw that smoke. Old Mrs Woods, she wanted to walk home through the ranges, but we said no (she is too old), we just have to wait. They’ll come for us. But we were not worried, we were happy.
This is what we see, this is how we live, this is how we have survived. Our ancestors taught us all this and we are passing their stories and knowledge onto our children and our grandchildren so they will know.
It is important for us to live on our land. We are free here, we can go anywhere. We know the way. If we go to town, we don’t know. We don’t know anything.
You want to know why we are here? It’s not a lifestyle choice, we are here for a reason. The people are here for a reason, to look after the land and the culture and they want to keep that strong. Milmilpa are sacred sites, tjukurpa in the land. We have papa milmilpa, minyma milmilpa, the sacred dog story and the two women story. We need to sit down with our kids and grandkids in this place and look after it.
Ara iritjitja are old time stories. In early days times they used to tell stories. The old people said if there was no water in the rockhole you have to look around for tjunu (holy water). We walked around and we heard birds talking. It means they are sitting on top of the water. This is the holy water. It’s an early days story we hear, we hear it from our grandmothers and grandfathers. When the birds are sitting there, they are sitting on holy water. God gave us that water. Palya.
We are telling this story for you. Are you listening?
- Roma Butler, Ivy Laidlaw, Jennifer Mitchell, Tjawina Roberts and Tjayanka Woods