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Visiting families in Fitzroy, Looma, Broome and Bidyadanga

Earlier this month, Thelma Judson and two Puntura-ya Ninti staff spent two weeks collecting family trees with Martu families living in Bidyadanga, Broome, Looma and Fitzroy Crossing. 

A lot of Martu families travelled north up the Canning Stock Route when they left the desert and worked in stations such as Cherrabun, Gogo (Margaret Downs) and Billiluna before settling in communities or towns in the Kimberley. Many gaps in these northern family trees were filled and many more names were added to Puntuku (family tree database).

The enthusiasm and energy shown by people to record their connections with the ‘desert mob’ was overwhelmingly positive. Thelma worked very hard and would wake up in the mornings with a whole lot of new names she remembered to add to the family trees.

Like all the family information held by KJ, these family trees were collected so that Martu can always know about their families, even if they no longer live on Martu country. 

Thelma talked very strongly for the reasons why KJ was collecting information and made sure everybody knew that it wasn’t for Native Title or to be locked away. The family trees will be made accessible to all Martu so that everybody knows they are part of one mob working together, no matter where they live. Once entered into the database, copies of the family trees will be sent back to the families living kayili (north) so that everybody has a copy of the information they gave.

The trip also allowed KJ to make connections with other organisations who work up north. In Fitzroy Crossing, we met with representatives from Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation, Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre,and the Sisters of St John of God Heritage Centre in Broome, who hold some Martu related materials in their archive. Everybody we met on the trip was very welcoming and generous with their time.