Milpirri Clouds

Keep an eye out for our team member Wanta Jampijimpa on the BBC this week. Here he uses the example of clouds to illustrate the Warlpiri vision of reconciliation.

“Milpirri (cloud) is really a metaphor for bringing Kardiya (non-indigenous) and Yapa (indigenous) together. It is the hot air rising and cold air falling that makes the thunderhead or ceremony cloud so full of rage and lightning thrashing; a cumulonimbus cloud that is full of fury. The moment where these two different knowledges clash: ‘How can you understand me, you are so different?’  These two, the cold air and the hot air, are trying to adjust to each other, and it isn’t easy. When the hot air rises, and cold air falls, it’s about adjusting to one another; a disagreement and then an agreement after. But after the big storm, when the hot air and cold air meet, after it settles down, that’s when it gives birth to this cloud called Milpirri. Then we can recognise the ground-up duty of care, a responsibility for the country’s knowledge. This is Yapa people’s responsibility, and when the clouds go really smooth at the top of that ceremony thunderhead, we call that in Warlpiri mukardi (ceremonial head-dress).

The cold air is Kardiya knowledge. The rain rejuvenates the possibilities for two different kinds of knowledge coming to an agreement. A better understanding of each other on both sides occurs; this is the rain and the relief that comes. When it rains, the nourishment of country occurs. Once the lightning settles, the rain comes, which is this country’s understanding of how we should work together and how achieving this can, sometimes, be a bit rough. This is what the Milpirri clouds represent.”

(Wanta Jampijinpa Pawu-Kurlpurlurnu)



(Photograph by Judith Crispin)

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