By Diane Bell
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Extra info for Daughters of the Dreaming
All the other students had some experience of Warlpiri from their work as teachers or advisers in Warlpiri communities. I made dreadful mistakes. ‘Learn through the ear’, our teachers repeated, ‘try’. I did and unintentionally insulted all the adult Aboriginal males present by uttering a particularly crude sentence. I felt strangely out of my depth and no-one, it seemed, liked anthropologists. I was treated like a spy: ‘Will you write down secrets and publish them? What will you contribute? ’ These challenges came from both white people and literate Aborigines.
Today people are cramped on settlements such as Warrabri, in daily intense interaction with whites and other Aborigines who a century ago were scattered across vast tracts of land in small mobile bands which congregated only in times of plenty, or in times of scarcity, when they clustered at the last of the permanent water. To ease the tensions of the population-intensive life-style of Warrabri and to preserve something of their old identity, Warlpiri and Warumungu oriented their camps to their traditional land west of the settlement, while Alyawarra and Kaytej oriented their camps to the east.
Perhaps she could be invited to attend Kaytej ceremonies. During the early months of establishing myself at Warrabri, a ‘niece’ of my older Warlpiri ‘sister’, who lived in the Kaytej camp, had been shyly approaching me and had come hunting with me on several occasions. I had taken some women to Phillip Creek on a nostalgic trip to their former home and, at the request of Kaytej women, I had recorded some love songs. I asked Napurrula, who was to become my close friend and teacher, if she would help translate the tapes and she agreed.
Daughters of the Dreaming by Diane Bell