46 x 61 cm: acrylic on canvas
“In 1984 my nyupa (spouse), Williams, and I moved our family from Jigalong to Parnngurr community. Our five children were all young back then. People wanted to mine at Parnngurr. There was lots of drilling going on. There wasn’t much out there when Parnngurr community formed, just a bow shelter, a windmill and a 44 gallon drum. We worked hard for there to be a good school in community. If there was going to be teachers at the school, they needed somewhere to live. The first teacher to work at Parnngurr school lived in a caravan. I worked alongside her at the school. The school is different now. It’s grown a lot. There are more buildings, and a basketball court. A lot of people have worked hard to make the school a good place.”
– Noreena Kadibil
In her account Noreena describes the early formation of Parnngurr Aboriginal community during the return to Country movement of the 1980s, with the recognition of Aboriginal land rights and native title. The community is located 370km east of Newman, at the Southern end of the Karlamilyi (Rudall River) area, and in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Parnngurr was named after its’ original primary water source, a nearby rockhole and yinta (permanent spring). Until recently the community was widely known as Cotton Creek, after the European name for the ephemeral creek running alongside the community. Parnngurr and its surrounds are physically dominated by distinctively red tali (sandhills), covered sparingly with spinifex and low lying shrub.
Parnngurr Rockhole, located just south of today’s community, was an important site for Aboriginal people during the pujiman (traditional, desert born) era. During this nomadic period families stopped and camped here depending on the seasonal availability of water and the corresponding cycles of plant and animal life on which hunting and gathering bush tucker was reliant. At Parnngurr and other similarly important camp sites, families would meet for a time before moving to their next destination.
Parnngurr Rockhole is also a site chronicled in the epic Jukurrpa (Dreaming) story of the Minyipuru (Jakulyukulyu, Seven Sisters), as they flee from the lustful old man, Yurla. The sisters stopped to rest on Parnngurr Hill before continuing on their long journey east. Minyipuru is a central Jukurrpa narrative for Martu, Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people that is associated with the seasonal Pleiades star constellation. Relayed in song, dance, stories and paintings, Minyipuru serves as a creation narrative, a source of information relating to the physical properties of the land, and an embodiment of Aboriginal cultural laws. Beginning in Roebourne on the west coast of Western Australia, the story morphs in its movement eastward across the land, following the women as they walk, dance, and even fly from waterhole to waterhole. As they travel the women camp, sing, wash, dance and gather food, leaving markers in the landscape and creating landforms that remain to this day, such as groupings of rocks and trees, grinding stones and seeds. During the entirety of their journey the women are pursued by a lustful old man, Yurla, although interactions with other animals, groups of men, and spirit beings are also chronicled in the narrative.
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Martumili Artists acknowledges the Nyiyaparli and Martu people as the Traditional Owners of the land we live and work on. We also acknowledge the Traditional Owners throughout our country and our Elders; past, present and emerging.