Storytracking the Wanderings Account
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.
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
[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,
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,
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
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
they travelled NW crossing the Finke
Thence to Alla a large range
where they made Engwura & while the
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
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)
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