Messages from the Women’s Culture Learning Campers
We’ve received feedback from the women who participated in the recent Women’s Culture Learning Camp. Here is some of what they said:
Woman 1: “Please let the Elders know how much I love, respect and thank them for their generosity in welcoming and teaching me. I was touched by the Elders’ trust and humour. I am in awe of their wisdom and commitment .. to holding Yawulyu (Women’s Law). I feel the task, the vital work of holding Yawulyu is momentously exhausting, essential and so under-resourced.”
Woman 2: “It gave me a broader understanding of the urgency of passing on the Law. I cannot begin to understand how the elders feel with time marching on. I believe I learnt humility. It was a great honour to attend the Camp, and spend time with the elders.”
Woman 3: “Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! Thank you for the experience of a life time. I truly have cherished ‘growing up’ and all that the elders shared with us.”
Woman 4: “In my everyday being, Kapululangu has changed me.”
More thanks for Assisting Kapululangu
In last week’s Mirli Mirli, Kapululangu thanked everyone for helping out with the Kapululangu Women’s Culture Learning Camp. Well, we thanked almost everyone but we forgot someone really important. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Michael and his workers at Pedersons company which is working on the old Adult Education Centre. They kindly brought in sand and made a wonderful dancing ground on the Women’s Law Ground. Yati Minyirri. Many thanks.
Tilitja Workers in Balgo
Kapululangu has been very happy to have Rachael Stacy and Kevin Smith staying and working with us for the past week. Rachael and Kevin are from the Maleny Kapululangu Support Group, near Brisbane. Rachael and Anne Delmas set up the Maleny Support Group after they attended the Balgo Women’s Law Camp at Blue Hill Law Ground in June last year. Rachael and Anne were Tilitja Team Leaders at the recent Women’s Culture Learning Camp. Anne had to go home to her family after the Camp, but Rachael was joined by her nyupa/partner Kevin in Darwin and brought him back to Balgo. They were coming back to work as Tilitja for the Nakarra Nakarra Dreaming Track Trip which was to be held this week but it was cancelled because of the Sorry Business for that Napangarti woman elder. So they spent the week being trained up as Tilitja for cultural activities planned for next year. Plans include more Culture Learning Camps, a Women’s Law Camp, and a Dreaming Track Trip. Rachael spent the week working with Zohl and Maggie, and Kevin has been working with Joah. They have been helping with running the Women’s Law and Culture Centre, a trip to Our Lady’s Bore, a Sleepover at the Women’s Law House, and a hunting trip with the women elders to get lots of karnti/bush potatoes. Both Rachael and Kevin are volunteers under the Indigenous Community Volunteers (ICV) organisation that supports Kapululangu. Many thanks to everyone at ICV for making it possible for Rachael and Kevin to be with us.
3 September 2010
Kapululangu Women are Very, Very Sorry.
Kapululangu’s Elders and Directors and their staff are very, very sad this week. The Board members are crying for the passing of a special family member and friend, and our staff are crying for a very important teacher and boss for Country. We are crying for all of her family – and for all people in Balgo who knew and respected her. She looked after her family really well, and particularly loved her grandchildren and great grannies. A Director of Kapululangu for many years, she was a great contributor to Kapululangu Women’s Law and Culture Centre. An important custodian for Yakka Yakka (The Quiet Place), she was very strong for Law and believed in Kapululangu’s commitment to assisting the women of Balgo to teach their Stories, Songs and Dances to the younger generations. She always looked after Kapululangu, and was quick to make everyone laugh whenever things got tough. I remember when I first met her in 2000. She was chasing a huge black pig – her pig! I was shocked to see a pig in the desert. The pig was trying to eat the Women’s Troopie and was standing between me and the driver’s door and I couldn’t get in it to drive away. She saved me from being eaten by the pig too. I have loved my parnku (cousin) ever since. Her passing has left an empty place at Kapululangu – in all our hearts. We will all miss her forever.
Nakarra Nakarra Dreaming Track Trip moved to 2 to 9 October.
Due to the death of our Elder who was an important custodian for the Nakarra Nakarra Dreaming Sites, Kapululangu has had to put off the trip to the Nakarra Nakarra area which was planned for next week. The grieving families have decided that the Trip must still go ahead because they want to honour her memory, and hold her knowledge for future generations. So the Nakarra Nakarra Trip will happen in one month’s time – on 2 to 9 October. They have also decided that the film that Kapululangu is making with PAKAM on the Seven Sisters must be finished so that the Stories, Songs and Dances are not lost and are kept for the younger and unborn generations. The PAKAM film crew will be on the Trip with us, and will stay in Balgo for two weeks afterwards to finish making the film.
Women’s Culture Learning Camp was a Great Success
Kapululangu’s first Women’s Culture Learning Camp was a great success. Eleven Kartiya women came to Balgo to live in the Women’s Law House with the Women Elders.
Kapululangu’s Elders and Directors welcomed the Guests to the Women’s Law Ground with a remarkably beautiful Welcome Ceremony. During the week the Elders led the visitors in two-days of Tjarrtjurra Healing Ceremonies
There was a Women’s Corroboree on the second night when teachers and nurses from Balgo, Mulan and Billiluna visited the Women’s Law Ground – and Juliette from Palyalatju came too. Our Kartiya visitors were really proud to dance with the Elders in front of all the Kartiya joining us for the night.
There were plenty of trips to Country for our visitors – including a sunset trip to the Lookout, a very special one-night Camp at Mirrlpi, and an afternoon spent at Nyarmalu. Our guests said that they were amazed by the strength of the Land in Balgo.
They had a tour around Balgo too. Kapululangu thanks WAC’s Chairman George Lee for welcoming our guests to Balgo. A big “Yati Minyirri” goes to Jimmy and Intji (Angie) Tchooga for inviting them to visit your Sorry Camp. Our guests all said that they felt very sad for your loss – and really honoured to shake hands with you both. Thank you Sally, Annette and others at the Warlayirti Art Centre for a guided tour on the first day – our guests returned later in the week to purchase 14 paintings ($8700) by local artists. Patsy Mudgedell kindly gave an introduction to the BRACS radio station.
Nakarra Marie Mudgedell impressed all of our guests when she sewed a beautiful skirt and bag by hand – it took hours but she kept it up until she was finished. While she was sewing she told stories about growing up in the Dormitories. One our guests promised to send three sewing machines so that Nakarra doesn’t have to sew things by hand again.
Our guests were really delighted when Luurnpa School teachers brought girl students to the Kapululangu Culture Shed to listen to Sand-Drawing Stories by the Women Elders. Thank you to Br Rick, Mungkina (Mary) and the other teachers who brought the kids to the Law Ground.
The Camp ended with a very remarkable Closing Ceremony by the Elders. Our guests had such a great time that they were all really sad to leave the Kapululangu Elders at the end of the week to return home. Our guests became very close to all of the Elders while they were living together in the Women’s Law House.
Our guests were all very sad to hear of the passing Napangarti after they left Balgo. They have asked us to pass their “Sorry” to that Elder’s families, to all the Kapululangu Elders, and to everyone in Balgo.
Kapululangu wants to thank all of our guests for being such wonderful tilitja (workers) for the Elders, particularly the Tilitja Team Leaders Rachael Stacy and Anne Delmas who learnt to be tilitja at the Balgo Women’s Law Camp in 2009. Kapululangu also thanks the organisation Indigenous Community Volunteers for supporting Rachael and Anne.
A big thank you to all the Aboriginal people of Balgo who supported the Elders. Your support for the Camp was really important because it was the first Camp, and we hope to run more next year.
A special thank you to Joah Gleeson, Kapululangu’s Project Officer (also an Indigenous Community Volunteer), who worked really hard before the Camp getting things ready, and for helping our guests plant 11 trees on the Women’s Law Ground. Thanks also to Maggie Gleeson for pre-organising all the food, and for using her Counselling skills to look after our guests. To Patsy Mudgedell and Bonnie for care-taking the Women’s Law House while our guests were present. Thanks to Zohl dé Ishtar for coordinating the Camp, and running the Culture Learning workshops.
Above all, a very special “Yati Minyirri” to the Kapululangu Women Elders and Directors for their immense generosity of spirit which made the Camp the success it was: Manaya Sarah Daniels, Payi Payi Sunfly, Yintjurru Margaret Anjul (Bumblebee), Mungkina Dora Rockman, Ruby Darkie, Nakarra Marie Mudgedell, Nan Watson, Ningi Nangala – and especially to Napangarti, our recently Lost Elder who will never be forgotten.
21 August 2010
Women’s Culture Learning Camp – 23 to 29 August
Kapululangu is running its first Women’s Culture Learning Camp this week. Eleven Kartiya women guests are arriving in Balgo on Monday morning. They’ll be in Balgo until Sunday 29 August. They will be staying with the Elders at the Women’s Law House. The Camp starts a Welcome Ceremony by the Kapululangu Women Elders, and includes a visit to the Wirrimanu Office, Warlayirti Arts, BRACS, and the Store – so you will see our guests around town in the afternoon. On Tuesday, there will be a Tjarrtjurra Healing Ceremony and, at night, a Women’s Corroboree. Our guests will be camping out on Friday and Saturday – with hunting and looking around Country. There’s going to be a lot of fun for both the Elders who are teaching our guests some of their culture, and our guests who are keen to learn how they can support Kapululangu women to hold onto their culture and pass their knowledge on to younger Balgo women and kids.
All women are welcome to come to the Women’s Corroboree on Tuesday night at dark time (6pm). Come along for some dancing and fun.
Women’s Centre is closed to visitors during the Camp
The Women’s Centre is closed to visitors during the Camp. The Back Road to the Women’s Centre is now closed – and will stay closed. The Water Tank Road will be closed on Monday for the week, opening up again on Sunday afternoon. The Kapululangu Board of Elders and Directors thanks everyone for respecting Women’s Law and the Balgo Women’s Law Ground.
Women’s Law House Now Newly Painted
The repainting of the Women’s Law House is now finished. The Tutjuku Tjilimi (Women’s Centre) looks absolutely wonderful – all bright yellow – just like the sun!
Kapululangu says “Thank You”
Kapululangu thanks Joah Gleeson (Kapululangu’s Project Officer and Men’s Culture Worker) for painting the inside of the entire building so well. Thanks also to Maggie Gleeson, Patsy Mudgedell, and Bonnie for their very hard work in cleaning all of the building – so that it could be painted. And also We also Indigenous Community Volunteers which has supported Joah to be with us for almost 18 months now.
13 August 2010
Kapululangu Women’s Culture Learning Camp – 23 to 29 August
Kapululangu women are gearing up and getting excited for their very first Women’s Culture Learning Camp. It starts on Monday 23 August, and continues for a week until Sunday 29 August. Twelve Kartiya women are coming to spend time living with the Kapululangu women at the Kapululangu Women’s Law and Culture Centre on the Balgo Women’s Law Ground.
The women elders have invited these guests because they want to share their cultural knowledge with them. And the guests are coming because they support Kapululangu women’s work in holding their Law and Culture strong. They want to learn how they can better support Kapululangu women’s important work to help make Balgo a great place for everyone to live.
As one of the Kartiya women coming said: “I believe that what the women Elders are doing for and with their community is vital, unique and also fragile. I want to support them physically and financially. I also want to honour their work by accepting the gift they are offering - an opportunity for me to experience their living culture for this precious week.”
Two of the Kartiya women coming to the Camp are Rachael and Anne who came to the Women’s Law Camp at Kumantjayi (Blue) Hill last year. They have been really good tilitja (/culture workers) for Kapululangu ever since – always sending Kapululangu money they have made so that we can keep doing our work, and sending presents like beanies and warm jumpers to the Elders. They are really excited about coming back to Balgo.
The Camp promises to be great fun! Some of the activities included are:
-a Welcome Ceremony
-Sunset at the Lookout
-Tjarrtjurra Women’s Healing Ceremonies
-Sightseeing trips out of Balgo
-Fire Circles every night
-Camping Out Trip (two days)
-A tour of Balgo
-Visits to Balgo agencies (including the Art Centre), and a
There’s still a whole week to go. So we’ll let you know next week what activities are planned. We’ll certainly be doing some things that all women and girls can come to. Like the big Women’s Corroboree on the Women’s Law Ground on the night of Tuesday 24 August.
Nakarra Nakarra Dreaming Trek is on 7 to 12 September.
Kapululangu will be doing a Nakarra Nakarra Dreaming Trek on 7 to 12 September.
The Kapululangu Elders are still deciding exactly what places we need to visit – but wherever we go it’s going to be a great trip. Women from Mulan and Billiluna can come too, if they can get good, safe vehicles to travel in.
We’ll be working with PAKAM (Pilbara and Kimberley Aboriginal Media) to finish off the film we started with them during the last Dreaming Track Trek last year. We’ve got an all-women crew coming this time. We’ll tell you more about this in the next Mirli Mirli.
Film Making with Kapululangu – 12 to 30 September
After the Nakarra Nakarra Trek, our all-women film crew will be staying in Balgo, living at the Women’s Law House, and working with the Kapululangu women to finish the film. They are making two films for Kapululangu – one is about the Nakarra Nakarra Trek, the other is about Kapululangu and will be used to help raise money to keep Kapululangu strong.
Tjarrtjurra Women Healing Ceremonies
The Tjarrtjurra (Women Healers) have been very busy over the past weeks. They did a big ceremony for one of the male elders. He was seen running around the community the next day full of life. Kapululangu Elders really like to make a difference to their community. Please remember that the Tjarrtjurra are available for healing anyone – and that includes Billiluna and Mulan women and men, and for Kartiya women and men too. You’ve just got to talk to Maggie first so that she can plan a good time with the Elders that suits everyone. Tjarrtjurra sessions are usually held on Sundays.
Renovations at the Kapululangu Women’s Law House
The renovations at the Kapululangu Women’s Law House are almost finished. Well, the first stage anyway. Joah has been re-painting the inside of the building. Maggie, Patsy and Bonny have been cleaning the inside of both the Law House and the Culture Shed. Everything is looking great over there. This is a first step in Kapululangu’s renovations on the building. Next year we’ll be putting in an accessible toilet and shower, and ramps – which are kindly being funded by the Kimberley Development Commission.
Kapululangu’s Achievements for the Year
In the past year (2009-10), Kapululangu has held 94 cultural activities and events. These activities involved 1816 participants (or what we call ‘participant incidences’ – meaning that we track how many people come to the Women’s Law and Culture Centre to participate in activities.
Cultural Activities included: Women’s Ceremonies and Community Corroborees, Tjarrtjurra Women’s Healing Ceremonies, Sleepovers, Special Cultural Events, Trips to Country and Hunting, Culture Classes for kids at the school and Language Classes for Kartiya living in Balgo, Story Recording and Film-making workshops, and Music Band Support.
Kapululangu also provided Governance and Leadership training 85 times, to 303 participants. This included meetings of the Kapululangu Board of Elders and Directors and meetings of the Board with government departments. The Board also held a special meeting with the Minister of Indigenous Affairs who is also Deputy Premier and Minister of Health for Western Australia. The Kapululangu women painted up and danced for the Minister. Ruby Darkie, Kapululangu’s Chairwoman, also gave the Minister a beautiful necklace of yiniti beads. Kapululangu also provided music band and media leadership support on a regular basis.
Kapululangu also provided community services, such as: accommodation and daily support to the Kapululangu women elders (aged) and disabled female residents, transport and travel, bereavement/Sorry Business support, domestic violence support, assistance with vehicle repair and retrieval, and firewood. It also ran a very active Drop-In Centre at Kapululangu House – the office, meeting room and staff residence. Services were given on 519 occasions to 1233 individuals. Kapululangu provides these services without being funded to do so. It does this because those services don’t exist in Balgo and yet people still need help. Kapululangu is not the only agency in Balgo providing these services without funding, resources or appropriately qualified staff.
Women Dance for Minister Hames
When Minister Hames, Western Australia’s Minister for Indigenous Affairs, visited Balgo community on 10 February 2010 Kapululangu Women welcomed him and friends onto their Women’s Law Ground. Painted up with ochres they sung and danced him onto Country.
Chairwoman Ruby Darkie presented the Minister with a necklace of ininti beads as a reminder of the strength of Balgo women.
They presented him with a letter and asked him to help them raise the funds they needed to keep on operating their organisation, and to help them secure the future of their efforts to teach Law and Culture to their grandchildren and great-grannies.
The Minister said that he felt very honoured by their welcome and promised that he would do his best to assist them.
Women’s Culture Learning Camp
Kapululangu Women are inviting 15 women to attend a Women’s Cultural Learning Camp in the last week of August 2010. Interested?
This will be 7 days living with the women elders on the Balgo Women’s Law Ground. You will participate in ceremonies with the Elders, visit Country, and learn a little about life in one of Australia’s most remote Aboriginal communities. Plus there’ll be daily Cultural Awakening workshops, Breaking the Silence Circles, as well as opportunities to visit other agencies in Balgo.
The Cultural Learning program promises to be dynamic and invaluable. Especially for women who want a greater understanding of themselves in relationship with Indigenous Australia, and want to assist in improving the relationship between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians.
This is an income-generating venture for Kapululangu. The fee pays the Women Elders as your cultural teachers, and covers workshop expenses (including food). It also provides a small contribution to Kapululangu to help the Elders run their community programs where they pass their cultural knowledge to their younger generations. You get the added bonus of knowing that by attending you will be helping your hosts keep their Law and Culture alive.
January through April CatchUp
January through March was a very busy time for Kapululangu. Actually it was remarkably busy!
There were 988 participants in three months! That’s remarkable because Balgo only has 410 residents, and only 350 of them are Indigenous.
Three-quarters of the participants were local Indigenous females - that’s 729 , particularly the Women Elders who made up half of that number (373). Kapululangu is continuing its support for the Men’s Side with 239 male participants accessing the Centre.
There was 18 Cultural Activities. This included 4 Tjarrtjurra Healing Ceremonies, 5 Trips to Country, 1 Sleep-over at the Women’s Law House for young girls to learn culture from the Elders, 3 Painting Up Story and 3 Documenting Song and Story sessions.
Kapululangu kept up its Tjilimi Activities with women elders living together on the Women’s Law Ground creating a safe cultural space for all women and girls. Over 34 days there were 202 incidences of participants living together.
Kapululangu’s Drop-In Centre had 455 participants: 312 females & 134 males.
Kapululangu Women Welcome Minister to Women’s Law Ground
Kapululangu women were happy on Wednesday 10 February to welcome the Hon. Minister Kim Hames, Deputy Premier of Western Australia and Minister for Health and Indigenous Affairs, and his team, on to the Women’s Law Ground. They gave the Minister a strong introduction to their Law and Culture work by painting-up, and then dancing and singing him onto the Land. Ruby Darkie, Kapululangu’s chairwoman presented the Minister with a beautiful necklace of irinti beads – she later told the Minister the story about the beads. The Minister had his photo taken with Margaret Anjule (Bumblebee) and her East Kimberley Elder of the Year plate. There were more photos with all of the Elders, Directors and Members who were present: Manaya Sarah Daniels, Payi Payi Sunfly, Nellie Njamme, Nan Watson, Lizzy Gordon, Ningi Nanala and others. The women talked to the Minister about their important Circles of Cultural Learning Law and Culture work and asked him for his support to find the funding so that they could on keep looking after their families and community. Maggie Gleeson, Kapululangu’s Administrator, read a letter from the Elders and Directors (written by Zohl in Brisbane). The Minister gave his assurance that he would look into supporting Kapululangu in any way that was within his power. Kapululangu women thanked the Minister for visiting them and waved him off the Law Ground.
Tjarrtjurra Healing Strong on the Law Ground
The Tjarrtjurra (Women Healers) have been working strong healing on the Kapululangu Women’s Law Ground. On 9 January they did a very strong session with 15 women, all healing each other. They did another ceremony on Sunday 17 January as part of the Young Women’s Sleepover. On the 30 January, they did a third session, this one for a male elder who needed their help. And then, on 5 February, seventeen women gathered to give a special healing ceremony for two men from the Kutjungka Parish. Kapululangu women were really happy to have their healing work recognised by the Parish in this way. They thanked Father Eugene for bringing the young men over to the Women’s Law Ground for healing. Tjarrtjurra women are happy to give healing to any women, men or children – Aboriginal or Kartiya – who ask their help.
Kapululangu Goes Bush on Community Picnic
Kapululangu Women joined the Wirrimanu Youth Workers Libby and Dallas, and plenty of others, to go to Darbai for a community picnic with fifty people! The Elders told stories to the kids. Everyone looked around Country. There were ten troopies full to the brim with people and kids. The rain had been big that week, and there was a mass bogging of all of the vehicles – all at the same time! Kapululangu was one of only two vehicles that escaped the bog! The other was a Police vehicle! It took almost two hours to free all of the troopies! A few weeks later, on 30 January, Kapululangu joined Palyalatju Maparnpa Health Committee, led by Tossie and Gracie, and organised by Glenise and Juliette, to go to Mulan Lake to gather bush medicines. Kapululangu women really enjoyed themselves. Kapululangu is always happy to work closely with Wirrimanu, Palyalatju, the Police and Child Protection, and all the other agencies. Big community picnics in the bush are important because they make time for the elders and young people to get together.
Kapululangu Young Women’s Sleepover
On 16 January, fifteen girls joined thirteen Kapululangu Elders at a Young Women’s Sleepover at the Law Women’s House. Everyone had great fun. The Elders led a Tjarrtjurra Women’s Healing ceremony on the Sunday. Thanks to the Middle-Generation women who worked with Maggie and Libby from Wirrimanu Youth Workers to make it a fun filled weekend.
Language Classes Starting Again: Thursday 18 February @ 4pm
Kapululangu is starting Kukatja Language Classes again next Thursday 18 February at 4pm in the afternoon at Kapululangu House. It’s a good opportunity to build basic Kukatja language and cultural skills. The class is open to all Kartiya women and men, especially new Staff to Balgo. If you are interested please let Maggie know, or just turn up. Language classes are great fun! Especially if you want to practice your laughing skills! They’re often a bit of feast too so if you want to you can bring a plate of food to share please feel free. Just feel welcome.
Women Elders Living at Kapululangu House
In addition to all of the above Law and Culture activities, some of Kapululangu’s women elders have made home in Kapululangu House with Maggie and Joah. Some nights there have been up to seven women plus some kids sleeping there. No one could see the floor! Everyone is having fun but this has increased Maggie and Joah’s workload while Zohl has been away. Thanks go to Wirrimanu and Balgo Clinic for helping out with looking after the women elders. The Law Women’s House needs some work on it and can’t be lived in at the moment. Kapululangu is trying to get the funds to fix it up. Kapululangu especially wants to thank Luurnpa School (Brother Rick), BoysTown (Br Lou) and Palyalatju Maparnpa Health Committee (through Chris Cresp), East Kimberley Disability Services Commission (Deb Craigie) and Wirrimanu Aboriginal Corporation (Chair person George Lee and CEO Matt Jennings) for providing letters of support for Kapululangu’s grant application to the Kimberley Regional Development to install an accessible toilet and shower and disability ramps to the women’s house.
Kapululangu's Christmas Party
Kapululangu women had a brilliant Christmas Party! On Christmas Day, twenty women and kids had fun together at Kapululangu House. There was so much food that lots more people got to eat yummy food that day when the women took home heaps of “take away”! Tjiliwa Helen Nagomara, Eva Nagomara, Cathy Lee, Nakarra Marie Mudgedell, Bertha Kalion and Cynthia Bumblebee were great cooks. They worked together to make a wonderful meal. Zohl was really happy to see all these women taking over the kitchen because she’d been cooking all morning and the day before. We had a lovely Christmas tree sent by Maggie and Joah Gleeson who couldn’t get home to Balgo in time for Christmas because of the cyclone. There were lots of presents under the Christmas tree – one for each of the women and kids. Everyone was really happy to have Christmas together.
Kapululangu Women's Balgo History Painting
Following on from the very successful 70 Years of Strong Culture Corroboree at the end of October, Kapululangu women continued to work on their Balgo History Painting. Working together they have created a remarkable painting which records the history of first contact between local Aboriginal people and the first Catholic missionaries. The women told stories about their painting as they painted about both the good and not so good parts of that first meeting between Aboriginal and Kartiya in 1939.
Kapululangu’s Film Project
Since the Nakarra Nakarra Dreaming Track Trip (in April) and Third Balgo Women’s Law Camp in (May-June), Kapululangu has been working with the Pilbara and Kimberley Aboriginal Media (PAKAM) organisation to make a film about Kapululangu. At the end of November through early December, Kapululangu women worked on the film. They had six editing and discussion meetings. This included the arrival in Balgo of an all-women film crew from PAKAM, including two Aboriginal women, to work with the Kapululangu elders, and assisted and advised by Kiwirriya Patsy Mudgedell. PAKAM’s Anna Cadden ran a film-making training program for young women, including Cynthia Bumblebee, which saw them heading out bush to film under the full moon, and staging an informal performance at the Old Warehouse. The highlight was when the PAKAM crew filming 11 of Kapululangu’s Board of Elders and Directors and its members talking about why Kapululangu is so important to them. They said that they believed that it was important for Balgo people to stay proud of their Law and Culture – so that they would stay strong and healthy. The film is not finished yet and Kapululangu is hoping that PAKAM will be able to send the all-women crew back to Balgo in June for a few weeks so that we can finish it.
Tjarrtjurra Women Healing Rituals
Kapululangu women have held two Tjarrtjurra Women Healing Rituals during the past month. One was held for Yintjurru Margaret Anjule who was really sick from an ear infection. Eight women attended the ritual – both Tjarrtjurra healers and apprentices. The second ritual brought 11 women together and was organised by the Mudgedell sisters (Patsy and Nakarra). It was a really strong session for many of the women who attended. Well done!
Kapululangu’s Staff have been away
It’s been a hard time for Kapululangu over the past month or so. First of all Joah and Maggie had to leave Balgo because Joah’s mother was really sick. They went to be with her, and stayed for her funeral. Everyone was really sad to hear of their sadness. Then Margaret got really sick and was flown out of Balgo to Royal Perth Hospital. Zohl went to look after her. They were away for two weeks. They were really happy to come home. Maggie and Joah came home on the last mail plane. Everyone was really happy to see them home – finally! We hope that there won’t be any more problems like this for a long time. Thanks to everyone for your support!
11 November 2009
Celebrating 70 Years of Strong Culture
Saturday October 31 was big day in Balgo’s history.
Kapululangu’s Board of Elders and Directors felt it was important to remember the time when 70 years ago, in October 1939, the first missionaries arrived in the Balgo area. They wanted to celebrate that Balgo people had kept their Law and Culture strong over all those years and the friendship and good things shared between Kartiya and Puntu.
The evening started with some women elders sat down at the basketball court to begin painting the history Balgo. Soon they had put down the story of Tjaluwarn where the first contact with the missionaries took place (1939). They painted in Comet (the missionaries’ first camp in September/October 1939), Tjumunturr (where they camped for a while looking for water), and Old Balgo (where people lived from 1942 to 1965) and new Balgo (which was built in 1964).
The painters put in lots and lots of footprints showing how people came to look at the missionaries, but went back into the desert. They came back to the mission and returned to the desert for many years. Puntu didn’t settle down in Old Balgo until 1949, ten years after the missionaries first arrived.
The painters were Payi Payi Sunfly, Nellie Njamme, Yupena Eunice, Lizzy Gordon, Ningi, Nan Watson, Lady Gordon, Dora Rockman, Sarah Daniels and Margaret Anjule.
Some kids sat and listened to the women elders telling stories while they painted. The men lit the fires and started cooking marlu tails for everyone. Heaps of kids played around the basketball court.
Some women started painting up the girls. Then the men started to paint up the boys. Soon there was girls and boys painted in ochre playing chasey and basketball. Some girls who had arrived late lined up to be painted.
The girls danced first. They were led by Manaya Sarah Daniels, Nellie Njamme and Patsy Mudgedell. They were all really good dancers. The singers were Margaret Anjule (Bumblebee) and Payi Payi Sunfly.
This was followed by an enactment (play) about the first meeting between the missionaries and Puntu. Joah Tjapaltjarri played Father Alphonse. He pretended that he was looking for people. He brought gifts with him. When he found some people he started to show them his gifts. He offered them flour, tea, sugar, lollies and tobacco. Suddenly Greg Mosquito came up to him. Greg was painted up and covered in mulan leaves. Greg pretended that it was the first time that he had seen a Kartiya. They talked to each other in their different languages – Kukatja and English – but they couldn’t understand each other. Joah gave Greg all his gifts. Greg danced away. It was wonderful. Thanks Greg and Joah.
It was just like the first meeting between Aboriginal and the missionaries. Father Alphonse wrote in his diary: “There were about 60 aborigines camping nearby as they had heard of our coming. Gifts were exchanged with the tribal elders – sticks of tobacco, bread and cheese and sweets for both young and old. The mission had begun.”
Next it was the boys turn to dance. They had been painted up by Jimmy Tchooga, Brandy, and Helicopter. Kamina Larry Gundora led the boys dancing. He was dressed in murtu (ochres), a naka (loin cloth) and nanpa (hairbelt). He carried a kularta (spear). He danced strong. And all the boys danced strong with him. Jimmy Tchooga, Brandy and Helicopter sang for the men’s side.
Then Cathie Lee read out the Kapululangu Statement:
Today we celebrate 70 Years of Strong Culture because we are proud that Balgo people enjoy strong Law and Culture. We celebrate 70 years of friendship between Aboriginal and Karitya in Balgo. We remember all the old people who went before us. They held the culture strong. We want to keep the Law strong for the children and the coming generations. We celebrate the community of Balgo Wirrimanu – in the land of the Great Luurn – the Kingfisher Dreaming. Only through pride in our Law and Culture, pride in ourselves as Aboriginal people, we will be able to stand strong together. And it is only when they have a greater understanding of our Aboriginal Law and Culture that Kartiya will be able to truly live with Puntu. Puntu living with Kartiya and Kartiya living with Puntu.
Then it was time for the Catholic Mass, led by Father Eugene Zurias and the Church Leaders. It was All Saints Day. In the service Payi Payi and Njamme talked story about the Old Days. Payi Payi talked about living in the desert when the missionaries came and of how the people recognised Father Alphonse as a good man. She talked about all the bush foods and how people were healthier then. Njamme told the story of the painting the women elders had been working on that afternoon.
Then we all had the marlu (kangaroo) tails that Gary Njamme, Keith and Nathan, had been cooking and the BBQ sausages that Jordan Mudgedell and Police Officer Brad Warburton had cooked. Everyone was hungry and it was yummy! Thanks to Maggie for organising all the food and drinks and to Joah for getting the firewood.
Immediately after the Church service, Cathie Lee told everyone about the death in Billiluna. Everyone was very sorry. To show respect to the Billiluna families it was decided to put the second day of our corroboree off for a while. Lots of people went to Billiluna the next day.
So we’ll be holding another Corroboree soon. There will be more painting, more storytelling, lots of games for kids who will all win a prize, a competition for women and one for men where the winners will win $100, another BBQ, and a Closing Ceremony with the Elders dancing this time. There will also be a raffle for a mobile phone!
Kapululangu thanks all of the people who helped make the event a great night for everyone. About 200 people came! All of the people who danced, sang, told stories, painted Balgo’s story, painted up the kids, led the kids dancing, cooked the food, gave out the food, looked after the elders, came to watch, were great kids, helped with the Mass, and had a great time.
We’d also like to thank Father Eugene for leading the Mass and giving $100 for the competitions. The Art Centre for providing the paints. And a special big thank you to Norm and Carol from Balgo Store who gave $100 for the competitions, provided prizes for the kids and the mobile phone for the raffle, and helped out with the food.
9 October 2009
Kapululangu Language & Culture Classes
Kapululangu re-started its Kukatja Language and Culture Classes on Thursday 8th October. We all had a fun time trying really hard at pronouncing Kukatja. Wirrimanu’s new youth worker Dallas and new BoysTown trainer John came along for the evening. Also Glennis from Palyalatju, Joah and Maggie from Kapululangu also attended. Gracie Mosquito, Tossie Baadjo and Marie Mudgedell were excellent, patient teachers who helped us understand the Kukatja Kinship System and how to sound out the words. That was when all the fun started. In our English language a “p” sounds exactly like a “p” but in Kukatja it sounds like a “b”. And a “k” sounds like a “g”, and so on. Of course to learn more you need to come to the classes. At the end of the evening we were all eager for the next class, which is on the Thursday 22nd of October at 6pm. For those of you who really wanted to come for the first class but were unable to, are most welcomed to attend our next class. Don’t be shy, it’s a lot of fun.
Celebrating 70 years of Strong Culture Saturday 31st October and Sunday 1st November
It is 70 years this year since the arrival of Kartiya in the Kutjungka region. The Catholic Church came to the Kutjungka and camped at Comet and then Tjaluwan in October 1939. This party is to celebrate the strength of local Aboriginal people, the old ones and those living now, for holding onto, enjoying and teaching their Law and Culture to younger generations for so long. It is a time to tell stories about the old days. And to celebrate the good things about the friendship between Aboriginal and Kartiya in the Kutjungka region. All Kutjungka people, Aboriginal and Kartiya are invited to celebrate this very important occasion. More details will be provided in the next issue of the Mirli Mirli so stay tuned.
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19 September 2009
Kapululangu Short-Listed for Aboriginal Award
Kapululangu Women’s Law and Culture Centre has been nominated for two awards in the East Kimberley Aboriginal Achievement Awards. One was the Outstanding Community Group or Partnership Contributing to the Aboriginal Community. But Kapululangu was shortlisted from 11 other candidates for the second award which is the Outstanding Project or Program that Encourages Aboriginal Participation. Kapululangu got shortlisted for its Circles of Cultural Learning (CCL). CCL is a collection of Law and Culture activities including Women’s Law Camps and Dreaming Track Trips. The organisers invited Kapululangu to attend the Award Presentation Dinner to see if we would get the award. But we had only just returned from Kununurra and didn’t have the time to go back there again. So we arranged for Jayde Fuller, a young Aboriginal woman in Kununurra, to attend the dinner. She’ll be there to accept the award if it is given to the Kapululangu elders. This is great recognition of and respect for the Kapululangu women elders and their work. It follows on from last year when Kapululangu’s founder and co-chairwoman Yintjurru Margaret Anjule Bumblebee was named Elder of the East Kimberley 2008.
Balgo People Support Kapululangu Elders Kapululangu wants to thank the members of the local Committee of GMAAAC (Granites Mine Affected Areas Aboriginal Corporation) for giving us $28,000 towards running Kapululangu. It is a great gift. Thank you! It shows that local people really care about and welcome the work that Kapululangu women elders and their staff are doing in Balgo. The women elders have been very busy with Law and Culture work. We’ve still got to get some more funding for Kapululangu so that we can make it strong and keep it going but the GMAAAC funding was really a great help. So a big thank you to the members of the GMAAAC Committee for supporting Kapululangu. Kapululangu Supports the Luurnpa School 25 Years Party
Kapululangu was happy to be a part of the Luurnpa Catholic School’s 25 birthday. The Kapululangu women elders painted up the girls, and supported the men who painted the boys. The boys and girls danced so beautifully that they made everyone really proud. The girls were painted up by Manaya Sarah Daniels, Yintjurru Margaret Anjule (Bumblebee), Payi Payi Sunfly, Mungkina Dora Rockman, Maudie Mandigalli and Ruby Darkie. Manaya led the girls in some fun dancing while Yintjurru and Payi Payi were strong Song Women. On the men’s side, Jimmy Tchooga, Helicopter and Brandy sang for the boys, who were led by Gary Njamme. Thanks to them all, and to Br Rick, for making sure that Culture was a part of the celebration.
4 September 2009
Kapululangu has been funded by Quaker Service Australia again
Kapululangu is very happy that Quaker Service Australia has agreed to fund our “Teaching Culture – Healing People” program again this year. That means that we can now start our ceremonies and corroborees, tjarrtjurra healing ceremonies, kids cultural classes, young women’s sleepovers, trips to Country and other activities again for another year. A big thank you goes to our friends at Quaker Service Australia.
Kapululangu Attended the Balgo Men’s Health Camp
Kapululangu's Project Officer/Men's Culture Worker Joah Gleeson joined in and helped out at the Balgo Men’s Health Camp. He was very happy to spend strong time with some of the local men and was very impressed with the workshops, activities and information exchange that took place on the Camp. He really enjoyed seeing all the young fellas spending so much time laughing and having a good time. He said he thought that kiparra (bush turkey) tasted so palya/good that he’d like to see it hunted by the young men and sold at the Store’s Take-Away. Joah has also been busy working with some men and women to record their songs and music. He’s also been collecting tree seeds, and has set up a little shade house at Kapululangu and is growing them up into tree-seedlings which he hopes to plant out when they are big enough.
Women’s Troopie Back on the Road
Good news! The Kapululangu Women’s Troopie is back on the road! It has taken almost two years of working on it little bit by little bit to repair the women’s car – after it was taken by men and badly used in November 2006. Kapululangu first got the Women’s Troopie in May 2000. It was a Lotteries Commission grant. Lotteries said that they wanted Kapululangu to keep the troopie going for three years. The Elders have kept their Troopie going for nine years now. That’s much longer than anyone expected. Kapululangu women have been very clever to hold their Troopie for so long. Kapululangu wants to thank all the men who worked on the repairs.
27 June 2009
Kapululangu Talk Sand-Story at the School
Kapululangu was delighted to be asked by Luurnpa School’s Aboriginal Teacher’s Aides to help celebrate NAIDOC – National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Celebration – on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday five women elders went to school to talk Sand-Story with the children. Mungkina Dora Rockman, Maudie Mandigalli, Sarah Daniels, Margaret Anjule (Bumblebee) and Ruby Granites told lots of stories.
The elders illustrated their stories by drawing in the sand – the traditional book! They drew the tracks of lots of animals and named lots of bush plants that kept all of the old people strong and healthy when they lived in the desert. Margaret Anjule told the story of Mungurrupa (Tanami Downs) when the big fire came and people ran to the waterhole and covered their bodies in red ochre to survive.
The kids divided into two group – the older ones came to listen to the stories first, but changed over the younger group who were enjoying Cathy Lee’s Kukatja Language book-reading group. It was good to see two different kinds of books being shown to the kids at the same time – sand-drawings and paper books. This taught the kids that there’s a place for all kinds of story-telling in Balgo. All the kids had a great time and there was lots of clapping and laughter.
Balgo’s Women and Men Elders Dance up a Storm
On Thursday Luurnpa School came alive with dancing from both women and men’s side. Eleven of Kapululangu’s women went to the school to lead the kids in dancing. Jimmy Tchooga was already there to teach the boys side, and Jupiter Patrick Smith came later to help him. There was also a big group of local men cooking a big marlu (kangaroo) in a deep fire pit. After the dancing the elders really enjoyed eating the marlu.
Payi Payi Sunfly, Sarah Daniels, Margaret Anjule and many other women painted up the girls. Jimmy Tchooga led a group of men to get the boys painted up and ready to dance. It took about an hour to get all the kids painted up.
Traditionally, paintup is the most important part of any dancing ceremony. Dancing is only the final part of a ceremony. When women and men paintup themselves in deep ceremony they can’t be seen by each other until the dancing starts. But with kids everything is open.
So the girls sat with the elders in the school’s basketball courtand the boys painted up under the trees. After being painted with red, yellow and white ochres the girls and boys looked really colourful.
The boys danced first, while Jimmy Tchooga and Margaret Anjule sung for them. Jimmy had painted four boys up in white ochre and got them to stand with spears. They stood on one leg just like the men did when they went hunting in the old days. Then he got the group of younger boys to dance up between them. They were helped by Garry Njamme. The boys danced really good.
Then it was the girls’ turn. They were led by all of the Kapululangu women who were also painted up. Margaret Anjule and Payi Payi Sunfly sung for them. The women danced in two groups. They were walking through the desert. The women were telling the story of how in the Dreaming the Nangala Kutjurra (two Nangala sisters) travelled through the Country growing themselves up. Sometimes they travelled together and sometimes alone. They didn’t have any mother. They just grew themselves up.
This dance is also a reminder of how in the old days groups of women would travel by themselves – living without men. While some stories talk about women living with their husbands and families, there are many stories of women living strong and independent. It is a message to young women that women are strong and powerful too.
The dancing was remarkable and colourful. Everyone was really happy to see them. While the paintup had been going on the call had been put out all over Balgo that something very special was going on at the School. Soon there were people everywhere. Aboriginal and Kartiya. A whole group of Kartiya lined up with their cameras. Everyone was very proud of the girls and women, and of the boys and men.
It has been many years since there has been a large community corroboree in Balgo. Most of the Kartiya who are in Balgo now have never seen one. Many Aboriginal residents would like there to be more. Kapululangu holds ceremonies and dances like this all the time. But this event reminded us that people who don’t come to the Women’s Law Ground have no way of knowing what Kapululangu women actually do and the important role that the elders play in their society. It was a good day.
20 June 2009
A Tenth Birthday Present: Canberra Government Says “Yes” To Kapululangu
Kapululangu was given a great 10th Birthday present when it got really good news last week. The Australian Government in Canberra has agreed to give Kapululangu some money so that we can keep going over the next year. The greatest news is that this money will come to Kapululangu direct. This is the first money that the government has given directly to Kapululangu in ten years. This is a great 10 Birthday present. It gives Kapululangu Elders and Directors another year to keep on making their organisation strong.
Kapululangu Thanks Wirrimanu Board
Kapululangu women thank the Directors of the Wirrimanu Aboriginal Corporation for supporting us over the past year. It has been a very important year. The money the government gave to WAC for Kapululangu helped our women to run lots of Law and Culture activities over the past year. This helped the government decide to give women’s money to Kapululangu itself. Kapululangu would also like to congratulate the WAC Directors for a very successful year. On 17 June, the WAC Board celebrated its first birthday. All the WAC Directors have done a really good job working together to run Balgo community.
Kapululangu Hosts Meeting with Government People
Last Tuesday, Kapululangu’s Elders and Directors hosted guests from the Australian Canberra and Western Australian Perth governments at a meeting on the Women’s Law Ground. Thirteen Kapululangu women talked to our guests about the importance of Kapululangu, about wanting to teach Law and Culture to the young women and children, and about how to make sure that Kapululangu keeps strong for many years to come. Our guests said that they would see how they could help Kapululangu.
Want to Work and have Fun at the Same Time? Kapululangu is Looking for CDEP Workers
Kapululangu is looking for women and men who want to be on CDEP. There’s four positions available to Kapululangu. But they need to be filled by Tuesday 30 June. There’s lots of work to do at Kapululangu – and some of it is very exciting. There are jobs at Kapululangu for men as well as women. You can:
help look after the Women’s Law House
run cultural activities after school with young girls
make a vegetable garden to provide fresh food
collect firewood for the Kapululangu elders and others
If you have another idea let us know – there’s a place in Kapululangu for it.
6 June 2009
Balgo Women’s Law Camp was Very Powerful!
The Balgo Women’s Law Camp, held from 27 May to 2 June, was very powerful for everyone involved. More than eighty women lived together on the Blue Hill Law Ground for six days of ceremony. Women came from Balgo, Mulan, Kururrungku/Billiluna, Ringer Soak, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Broome, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Lismore (NSW) and Maleny (Qld). They were Aboriginal and Kartiya/non-Indigenous women. We also had four young women from Balgo, and three young Kartiya women (two from Maleny and one from Perth).
This was the third women’s camp at Blue Hill. It follows on from the first Balgo Women’s Law Camp in August 2007 and the Young Women’s Culture Camp in April 2008.
It was the most important Law Camp that Kapululangu has ever held. It was an important time for “growing up women: Strong for Law, Strong for Culture”. There were so many ceremonies. There was a lot of dancing and singing. Each ceremony took women deeper into the Tjukurrpa with each step.
The Elders worked well together to teach and protect everyone at the Camp. They taught Culture and Law to all the participants – Aboriginal and non-Indigenous. Everyone was extremely touched by the strength of the Elders. Everyone was very grateful to them and thank them for their wisdom, guidance and support. The land is strong at Blue Hill – because women have danced on it for so many years. We could all feel its strength.
Margaret Yintjurru Anjule Napurrula (Vice-Chair andRotational Chair), Ruby Darkie Nangala (Kapululangu’s Chairwoman), Payi Payi Sunfly Napangarti (Secretary), Maudie Mandigalli Napanangka and Mungkina Dora Rockman Napaltjarri were among the strong Senior Law Women who ran the Law Camp. There were a lot of Senior Law Women at the Camp who came from right across the Kutjungka so there are too many names to list here. But together these women Elders made the Camp the wonderful experience it was. They taught us, guided us, protected us, looked after us, and healed all of us with their wisdom and courage. We are all very grateful to them. We thank them for holding Yawulyu: for holding Women’s Law for us and for all women.
Nakarra Marie Mudgedell (Kapululangu’s Vice-Chair) cooked mountains of very welcomed nutritious bread for everyone. Patsy Mudgedell Nakamarra, as Kapululangu’s Cultural Facilitator, contributed much to the Camp. This included a meeting in which women felt safe to express how they felt as Aboriginal and non-Indigenous women working together on the Law Ground. This meeting was made stronger by Aboriginal singer-musician Kerryanne Cox giving us all a chance to hear her beautiful voice and songs.
Ochre Doyle Wunguya Napaltjarri, an Aboriginal woman from Broken Hill who has been involved with Balgo and the Kutjungka since 1993, looked after the Kapululangu Elders in every way. Ochre has worked closely with Kapululangu since it started in 1999 and attended the Women’s Law Camp in 2007. Maggie and Ochre were supported by Corrine Batt-Rawden, who came to Kapululangu with Ochre to be her support and helper. Both are artists and they did some really good art work with the women both before and during the Camp.
Everyone worked really hard together. The Kartiya women quickly warmed to their roles as Tilitja/Culture Workers for the Elders. They fully understood the importance of giving service to the Elders. (Tilitja is a traditional role in all Law and Culture events, and lies at the core of how Kapululangu operates.) The Tilitja worked really well in the Kitchen under the direction of Kapululangu’s (new) Administrator wonder-woman Maggie Gleeson (who the Elders have made “Nakamarra” and given her “Tjantjiya” for her Bush-Name). Groups of Kartiya were going around with trays ladened with the most wonderful meals and cups of tea giving them out to the Elders and other women.
The Kapululangu Elders were delighted to see their dances and songs recorded for future generations by an all-Aboriginal, all-female film crew from PAKAM (Pilbara and Kimberley Aboriginal Media). The film crew was organised and assisted by Patsy in her PAKAM role. The Kapululangu elders have repeatedly stated their desire to have their songs documented as a resource to teach young women and to hold them for future generations. The Elders made strong restrictions on what could be filmed – and what could not be filmed – and this was respected by everyone. None of the guests took photos at any time during the Law Camp.
The Blue Hill Law Ground was a wonderful home for us all. We had two large wilitja/bough-sheds – the biggest one for the yawulyupirri (women’s dancing ground). They were built by Kapululangu’s Joah Gleeson (“Tjapaltjarri”) with the assistance of local Aboriginal men from Balgo Medical Clinic and the local council (Wirrimanu Aboriginal Corporation).
The days were warm, but the nights were very cold. But, unfortunately, we had some really cold, wet rain on the second night. The sun came out the next day but just in case it rained again, Kapululangu arranged for more tarps and all the tilitja/culture workers helped make all the women’s tents and bough-sheds very warm and cosy.
Two highlights of the Law Camp were the Gift Giving Ceremonies. The first Gift Giving saw Kapululangu and some of our guests giving new Blankets to all of the Elders. This was so that they could stay warm at the Camp. Kapululangu women had also made some small gifts of locally made bush medicines to our guests. The second Gift Giving saw the Kartiya giving money as a sign of respect for the Elders sharing their cultural knowledge with them. (The giving of gifts as a sign of respect is an age-old custom.)
Kapululangu wants to thank all of the women who came to the Law Camp – particularly the Elders from Mulan, Kururrungku, Ringer Soak and Fitzroy Crossing. We want to thank all of the women who came, from all of their many communities across Australia. We want to thank the young women who came – both the local Aboriginal young women and the Kartiya ones: it was good to have you all with us. We want to thank all of the Kartiya women who came. We particularly want to thank those Aboriginal and Kartiya women who were strong and committed Tilitja/Culture Workers and helped look after the Elders.
Kapululangu wants to thank the men of Balgo for their support. Special thanks go to the Senior Law Men of Balgo who supported the Women’s Law Camp. Particular thanks to all of the men and the women and children who gathered on the Oval for the Community Welcome Back Women’s ceremony. This showed once again that Balgo men respect Women’s Law, just as Balgo women respect Men’s Law. We need both Men’s and Women’s Law to be strong – so that we can be strong.
The Kapululangu Elders and Directors are already talking about the next Women’s Law Camp which they are planning for next year. Which is good because everyone had such a good time that they have asked for many more camps.