Dorothy Napangardi

Warlpiri painter Dorothy Napangardi (c.1950-2013) spent her life depicting the womens’ site Mina Mina, in the Tanami Desert – sacred to Napangardi and Napanangka skin groups. There are many ‘mulju’ (water soakages) and a ‘maluri’ (clay pan) at Mina Mina.

In the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) some women travelled east collecting Ngalyipi (Snake Vine) and performing ceremonies. They began their journey at Mina Mina where Karlangu (digging sticks) emerged from the ground. ‘Ngalyipi’ is a rope-like creeper that grows up the trunks and limbs of trees, including ‘kurrkara’ (desert oak). It is used as a ceremonial wrap and as a strap to carry ‘parraja’ (coolamons) and ‘ngami’ (water carriers). ‘Ngalyipi’ is also used to tie around the forehead to cure headaches, and to bind cuts. The women took the Karlangu (Digging Sticks) and travelled east creating other sites.

The Dreaming track eventually passed through Coniston in Anmatyerre country to the east, and then went on to Alcoota and Aileron far to the northeast of Yuendumu and eventually onto Queensland.

There are fewer and fewer custodians of these important Dreaming stories and we have to ensure their survival by passing them onto the next generation. The wellbeing of Aboriginal people depends on their connection to culture, community and country – and sharing traditional stories is one way of strengthening that connection.

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