Storytracking the Wanderings Account


Storytracking the Wanderings Account


Texts, Stories, and Histories in Central Australia
Paperback 12/02/1998 ISBN13: 9780195115888 ISBN10: 0195115880 Storytracking is a work of theory and application. It is both a study of history and culture and the academic issues accompanying the interpretation and observation of other peoples. Sam Gill writes about Central Australia, but, more importantly, he writes about the business of trying to live responsibly and decisively in a postmodern world faced with irreconcilable diversity and complexity, with undeniable ambiguity and uncertainty.
Storytracking includes engaging accounts of many of the colorful figures involved in the nineteenth-century development of Central Australia, and it is an argument for a multiperspectival theory of history. It presents descriptions of an important aboriginal culture--the Arrernte--and it critically examines ethnography. It exposes the colonialist underbelly of all modern academic culture study, yet it embraces the situation as one of creative potential outlining an interactivist epistemology with which to negotiate the classical alternatives of objectivism and subjectivism. Gill presents an examination of the emergent academic study of religion focused on two exemplary scholars--Mircea Eliade and Jonathan Smith--offering a play theory of religion as the basis for innovative critical discussions of text, comparison, interpretation, the definition of religion, academic writing style, and the role of "the other."
Based on painstakingly detailed research, Gill exposes disturbing and confounding dimensions of the modern world, particularly academia. Yet, beyond the pessimism that often characterizes postmodernity, he charts an optimistic and creative course framed in the terms of play.

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Storytracking The Wanderings Account
Published Account Compared with Field Journals

The account of Arrenta ancestral wanderings published in Spencer and Gillen's The Arunta (1927) on which Eliade depended is comprised of two sections. The first which deals with what is construed as world creation performed by Numbakulla was recorded by Spencer during his 1927 field study. It did not appear in Native Tribes in Central Australia (1899) the work for which The Arunta is a revision. This part of the account will be considered later. The second part which presents summary accounts of the travels of the tjilpa ancestors was published in both editions of Spencer and Gillen's work. The following analysis tracks these ancestral journey stories to their Arrernte sources. Spencer edited materials collected by Frank Gillen in April and May of 1897. The left column presents the account as published in Native Tribes (corresponding fairly closely with its publication in The Arunta). The right column presents the corresponding parts of Gillen's journal. Question marks "?" indicate terms in Gillen's handwritten journal that I found indecipherable.

The Achilpa Tradition
The Later Wanderings
Spencer & Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 410-15

[This is the story of the tjilpa ancestors. They become divided into four groups that go their separate ways across the landscape. This is the story of the third group.]

The third party of Achilpa or wild cat people consisted of one division of the original group which came out of the country now occupied by the Luritcha tribe, and split into two after arriving at Yungurra.

Under the direction of a Kumara man who was Atnimma-la-truripa, the men took a north- westerly course, crossed the Finke river just where it emerges from the long Finke gorge, through which, hemmed in between lofty walls of quartzite, it passes north to south across the James Range, and camped at Urapitchera near to a spot now called Running Waters. Here they erected the Kauaua, which they carried with them, and made an Engwura. At this place they found a number of Inturrita (pigeon) men and women of all classes who were cannibals. The Achilpa people saw them eating human flesh, and two large round Churinga which are preserved in the sacred store-house at Urapitchera represent the heads of men who were eaten. The Inturrita killed their victims with long stone Churinga about the size of, and shaped like, the beaked boomerangs of the Warramunga tribe. At this spot the Alchilpa changed their language to that of the Arunta people, and, leaving a Purula man behind them,

passed on to Itnunthawarra in the present Waterhouse Range, where they camped for a short time and performed ceremonies. Travelling slowly northwards amongst the ranges they came to Iruntira on the Hugh river, where they left one man, a Bulthara whose name was Iruntirinia.

Then they came to Okir-okira, a place ten miles to the north-west of the present Owen Springs, and thence travelled on to the junction of the Jay and Hugh where there was a Panunga woman living who showed them her ceremonies. She belonged to the Alk-na-innira (a large beetle) totem. The Achilpa in return showed the woman some of their ceremonies and

did not intefere with her. Leaving her, the Achilpa followed up the Jay Creek to Chelperla, where some time was spent in performing Ampurtanurra, and where the old leader remained behind. At this spot many of the party developed Erkincha. Journeying on they came to Mount Conway, a bold lofty bluff in the Macdonnell Ranges, and close to its base they rested for a few hours before attempting the steep ascent. Then they crossed the mountain and camped at Ningawarta, a little way over on the northern side of the range, and here they performed ceremonies. Their next stopping place was Alla (the nose), a sharply outlined hill in the most northern of the series of parallel ridges which all together form the Macdonnell Ranges. At this place they made Engwura and while the young men, who were being initiated, were out in the bush, they came across a Purula woman of the Ulchilkinja (wattle seed) totem, with whom, contrary to one of the most rigid rules by which the Engwura is governed, and without the knowledge of the old men, they all had intercourse. At Alla, two men who were Kumara were left behind, and the party went on to Kuringbungwa,

and as, when they reached there, some of the old men were getting very thin, the younger men opened veins in their arms and, to strengthen them, gave them large draughts of blood, by which treatment they were much benefited. At Enaininga, a waterhole on the Jay Creek, they performed the rite of Ariltha upon a number of young men, leaving untouched those who were suffering from Erkincha.

Further on, at Iranira, they again performed the rite of Ariltha, and here they left one man called Unatta who was a Purula. Then they went on to Okinchalanina, where they performed ceremonies, and elaborately painted the backs of all the men. They stayed here a short time making Okinchalanina (necklets), kulchea (armlets), and uliara (forehead bands), and when they again started to march on they left one man, a Panunga, behind them, as he was too ill with Erkincha to walk any further.

They considered that the unlawful intercourse with the wattle seed woman had spread the disease and increased their sufferings. ([Footnote:] This does not mean that they reasoned from a strictly medical point of view; their idea in a case of this kind is that a man suffering from Erkincha conveys a magic evil influence, which they call Arungquiltha, to the women, and by this means it is conveyed, as a punishment, to other men.) Still travelling amongst the ranges, they camped at various places, at one of which, called Lilpuririka, which means running like a creek,

the old men were again nourished with blood given to them by the young men. Leaving behind them an old Panunga man who was suffering from Erkincha, they travelled on to Ilartwiura, a waterhole on the Jay Creek, and erecting their Kauaua, they performed sacred ceremonies, a large rockhole now marking the spot where the Kauaua stood. Some more men developed Erkincha here. At their last stopping place amongst the ranges they stayed some little time, making Ampurtanurra and performing Ariltha, and then they crossed the most northerly of the rocky ridges amongst the Macdonnell Ranges, and came down on to the Burt Plain which stretches far away to the north. At Alpirakircha they found an old Kumara man of the Achilpa totem named Alpirakircharinia, who had originated there and had a very large Nurtunja which they had been able to see from the top of the last ridge which they had crossed.

They performed Ariltha here upon a number of young men, including the local Achilpa man, and also made Engwura. Leaving the man in his camp, they went on to the west, away down the Burt Plain, and met two Achilpa women who had originated there. One was a Purula and the other a Kumara, and they had Nurtunja which they hid away when they saw the Achilpa men coming. Without interfering with the women, the men camped and performed certain ceremonies, and then went on to Ungatha where a man was left behind named Ungutharinia. This man, like many of the party, was suffering from Erkincha; at the present day he is represented by a living descendant whose secret name is, of course, Ungatharinia. Being now very tired the men went underground and followed a northerly course until they came to


Udnirringintwa, where they made a great Engwura. Many of the party died here from Erkincha, and a large number of Churinga representing them are in the local store-house. A large sand hill also arose to mark the spot where the Parra, that is the long low mound always made on the Engwura ground, was raised, and this hill can be seen at the present day. The surviving members of the party--still a large one--went once more into the ground and came out again at Alkirra-lilima, where they camped for a long time and made Ampurtanurra. They found there an old man of the Panunga class and Unjiamba totem whose name was Alkaiya, and who had a big Nurtunja and owned quabara undattha. Here again more men developed Erkincha. Travelling now above ground, they came to Achichinga in the vicinity of Mount Wells, where dwelt an old Panunga man of the Unjiamba totem, whose name was Achichingarinia. He possessed a large Nurtunja which the leader of the Achilpa men tried to take by force, but the old man clung to it so closely, and made such a very loud arri-inkuma ([Footnote:] This is a loud sound made by shouting au-au-au repeatedly, while the hand is held with the fingers slightly bent, and the palm towards the face, and moved rapidly backwards and forwards upon the wrist in front of the mouth. It is frequently used by the natives to attract the attention of any one at a distance. During the Engwura ceremony, for example, it was the signal used to call up the men who had been away from the ground while the ceremony was being prepared.) that he was forced to desist. The party here made quabara undattha and changed its language to Achicha, which is a mixture of the Ilpirra and Kaitish tongues. Turning round they looked back upon their tracks and all said "We have come very far."

Leaving here they passed Parachinta, without seeing the Ullakupera and Quirra people who dwelt there, and camped at Appulya, north of Parachinta, and close by here saw an old Bulthara man of the Irritcha (eagle hawk) totem, who was out hunting and so had not got his Nurtunja with him, but when he saw the Achilpa men he ran back to his own country.

Ariltha was performed upon some of the young men, and an Engwura was made. Then they went on to Arrarakwa, on Woodeforde Creek, where they found a Panunga man of the Achilpa totem who was busily engaged in making a Nurtunja.

Upon him and others they performed Ariltha, and then, for some time, they camped at a spot higher up the

creek making Ampurtanurra. At this part, the creek has a steep, high bank, which arose to mark the exact spot where the Kauaua rested against it before being erected. Here they left a Bulthara man and

they went on to a place on the Hanson Creek, to the south-west of Central Mount Stuart, where they found an old Bulthara man of the Yarumpa (honey- ant) totem who was sitting by the side of a Kauaua, and they learned that Engwura ceremonies had just been made, and that all the young men were out in the bush.

By and by they returned, and then the two parties mixed together, and the Achilpa peformed Ariltha upon all the Yarumpa, including young and old men, and then commenced another Engwura which they did not wait to complete, but, leaving the Yarumpa people to finish it, they started on their journey and travelled on to Kurdaitcha, a spot to the west of Central Mount Stuart, where dwelt a large number of Achilpa of all classes who had originated there. After performing Ariltha upon all of them, the two parties mixed together and made a big Engwura. Going still further on, they met with a number of men and women belonging to all classes and to the Intilyapa-yapa (water beetle) totem, close to whom they camped, but without mixing with them. At a place called Okinyumpa an accident befell them which made them all feel very sad; as they were pulling up the Kauaua, which was very deeply implanted the old Oknirabata, who was leading them, broke it off just above the ground, and to the present day a tall stone standing up above the ground at this spot represents the broken, and still implanted, end of the pole. Carrying on the broken Kauaua they came to Unjiacherta, which means "the place of Unjiamba men" and lies near to the Hanson Creek. They arrived here utterly tired out, and found a number of Unjiamba men and women of all classes. They were too tired and sad to paint themselves, their Kauaua in its broken state was inferior to many of those which the Unjiamba people had, so they did not erect it, but, lying down together, died where they lay. A large hill, covered with big stones, arose to mark the spot. Their Churinga, each with its associated spirit individual, remained behind. Many of them are very , and now in the Ertnatulunga or storehouse at Unjiacherta.


Wanderings of Achilpa Column III
F. Gillen - Journal 3 (503-17)
April-May 1897

On the same day that the Oca Imanda [?] mob started this mob also started under Atnimmala-truripa Kumara [one of the subclasses of Arrernte tribe] (Umbelchaana [name of Kumara])

they travelled NW crossing the Finke

at Running Waters & camped at Urapitjera near Boggy Water hole on the Finke where they performed Engwura they found here a mob of Inturrita (pigeon) people men & women who were cannibals living upon one another - these people were of all classes the Achilpa men witnessed them eating human flesh & two round stone Chruinga now preserved in the Erlanlalinga [storehouse] at Urapitjera represent the heads of men who were eaten the cannibals killed their victims with long churinga shaped like the Warramanga clubs (kabia) the Achilpa visited [?] with the Inturitta & changed their language to Arunta which was the language of the Inturitta people leaving one man a Purula named Ulkangintia who was possessed of two ordinary sized penis the achilpa journeyed on to Itnunthawarra a place situated somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Waterhouse Range where they camped & made Quabara undattha note the Kawawa is erected at every camp & is carried along by the party - thence to Churinga where they made Engwura thence & [?] [?] to Iruntirra on the 8 mile Creek south of O.S. [Owen Springs] here they made quabara undattha & left one man a Bullhara (Apugerta man whose name was Irruntirringa[)] Thence to Ochviochira (a place 10 miles N.W. of Owen Springs Station) where they made quabara undattha thence to Arathetta (junction of Jay & Hugh Creeks) where they found a Panunga lubra of Alknaienirra (large beetle) totem who joined them & showed them her quabara undattha the Achilpa then made a big Engwura which the woman was permitted to witness because she had shown her quabara. She was not interfered with & remained at Arathetta the Achilpa went on to Chelperla on the Jay Creek camped & made Ampartanurra i.e., a series of quabara undattha ceremonies here the Oknirabala Alusm: who was a Kumara (Anebitchana) sat down, many of the men were here seized with Erkincha disease but leaving the Aluumma they journeyed on to Ungapakunna near Mt. Conway where they rested for a few hours before ascending the mount having rested they crossed the Mountain & camped at Nyngauarta a little to the north & made quabara undattha

Thence to Alla a large range

where they made Engwura & while the

Ilpanagmura were out in the bush they found a lubra a Purula of the Ulchilkinja (wattle seed) totem with whom they all had connections without the knowledge of the old men who remained at the camp shepherding the Churinga they left the woman where they found her having finished the Engwura ceremonies two men of the Kumara (Um bitchaana) class were left & the party went on to Kuringbungwa a big range where they camped & made quabara undattha some of the old men were getting thin & to strengthen them the young men opened veins in their arms & filled them with blood which benefitted them greatly -thence to Enaininga (close to fish hole on Jay Ck) where they made quabara undattha & performed Ariltha on a lot of young men of their party - they did not operate upon any who were suffering from Erkinchathence to Irrauirra (on the Jay Ck N) made quabara undattha

some more men developed Erkincha left one man a Purula (Ungalla) named Unattha & went on to Ochinchaluninna (the necklace) where they made a large number of Ochincha luninna Kulchea & Uleara

here they made quabara undattha & elaborately painted the backs of all the men left - one man a panunga named Okniroknirra who was too ill with Erkincha to walk

they considered that intercourse with Wattle seed woman has spread the disease & made them worse -

Thence to Narinpa place travelling on Ranges & going north where they camped for a long time and made Ampartanurra thence to Lilpurarika a waterhole on the Jay or in the tributary thereof made quabara undattha - Thence to [?] ([?] place where the blood ran) here the old men were again fed upon blood drawn from the arms of the young men--made quabara undattha & left - one man a Panunga (Uknaria) named Ilpumirka who was very ill with Erkincha - thence to Ilartwiura a waterhole in creek probably Jay made quabara undattha a large rockhole now marks the spot where the kawawa stood at this camp some more men developed Erkincha - thence to Elunjinga (close to the Burt plain) here they made Ampertanwiria & performed Ariltha

thence to Alpirakercha on the Burt Plain where they found an Achilpa and a Kumara named Olpirakacheringa this man had a large nurtunja erected at this camp & it was first seen by the Achilpa when they got on top of the last range - man sprang up here - made a big Engwura in which the man took part also performed Ariltha upon a number of men including Ilperakacheringa who remained at his camp the party moving on to Untimara going west [(]aldorla[)] down Burt Plain made quabara undattha & found two lubras one Purula (Ungalla) & one Kumara (Umbilcharma) who sprung up there these women had a Nurtunja which they hid away when they saw the Achilpa mob who did not interfere with them in any way but after making the usual quabara undattha moved on to Ungatha - still going west - where they made quabara undallha and left one man a Kumara (Umbilchaana) who

was suffering from Erkincha his name was Ungutharinia & his descendant lives now under the same name here the party being tired of travelling went into the ground & came out again at Arkunkuluria where they camped (they are always camped when making these ceremonies) & left one man a Pananga named Arkunkuringa whose descendant is now living made quabara undalla thence to Udnirringintwa where they remained a long time & made Engwura here a great number of men died of Erkincha & a large number of Churinga sprang up many of which are now in the Ertualalinga at Ilparlinja on the Harry Creek a large sandhill called Toanampilla arose at the spot where the para was erected Urumpilla & Engwura are synonymous terms the survivors of the party still a big mob went into the ground & came out again at Alkirralilima where they made Ampurtanurra and

found an old man of the panunga class & [missing phrases?] Alkaiya & [missing?] quabara undattha -

some of the party developed Erkincha thence to Achichinga a place near the Dutchman's Storm made quabara undallha & found a panunga man of Unjiamba totem whose name was Achichingarinia - no living descendant -this man possessed a large nurtunja which the leader tried to take but the old man clung to it too closely & made very loud aricakuma (noise produced by agitating hand on front of mouth)

the old man also had quabara undattha - here the Achilpa changed their language to the Acheecha which is a mixture of Kytiche & Ilpirra tongues, turning round they looked back in the direction from whence they came & all said we have come a long way

leaving here they passed Parchinta Dutchmans Storm without seeing the Ullakupera [raised "on trees" ?] & quirra people who dwelt there & camped at Apulya north of Parchinta made quabara undattha & proceeded to Arwanchatirika where they saw an Irritja man a Bullthara named Urpunania who at once ran away to his own country Yariljapancha Mt Boddiby the man was not out hunting & did not carry nurtunja made big Engwura here & performed Ariltha on some of the young men

then on to Ararukwa Kirosene camp Woodeforde Creek

engaged making a nurtunja when the mob arrived & afterward sprung up at this place & remained there the party moving on to Erutatna on Woodeforde Creek there they had a long spell [?] Ammpurtanwira

the creek at this camp has a very high steepbanks which marks the spot where the Kawawa rested,

here they left one man a Bulthara named Etutatnarinja who has at present no living representative thence to Unthilil-wichika on the Hanson Creek (Arambiga) SW of Central Mt Stuart here they found one Yarumpa [honey ant people] old man Bulthara (Apangerla) name Yarumpa sitting alongside a Kawawa & they learned that his men had just completed Engwura ceremonies & were all out in the bush

by & bye they returned & the two parties boxing together the Achilpas peformed Ariltha upon all the Yarumpa including the old man they then made another

Engwura & leaving the Yarumpas journeyed on to Kurdaitja west of Central Mt. Stuart where they found a

lot of men & women of Intilyapa-yapa (water beetle) totem consisting of all classes the Achilpa camped close to but did not box up with these people who had a Nurtunja - Achilpa made quabara undalltha as usual & went on to Okinyumpa made quabara undattha & when the old man was trying to pull up the Kauaua which was planted deeply it broke off close to the ground & they all felt very sorry - a tall stone now sticking up at the spot represents the broken Kauaua - thence on carrying the broken Kauaua to Unjiacherta (which means the place of the Unjiamba men) near the Hanson (& about west of Sterling Creek Station) here the travelers arrived utterly knocked up & found a large mob of Unjiamba men & women of all classes the travellers were too tired & sad to paint themselves, their Kauaua in its broken condition was inferior to many in the possession of the unjiamba people so they did not erect it, but, lying down died where they lay a large hill covered with big stones sprung up & marks the spot (where they died). Their bodies became Churinga many large & long & which are now in the possession of local Achilpa.