Return to Country Trips

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Kalyuku ninti trips align strongly with Martu aspirations to strengthen culture. Transferring cultural and ecological knowledge from elders to young people ensures that knowledge and culture remain strong for future generations.

These trips take young and old people back to their traditional homelands. Key components of these trips involve:

  • visiting key sites

  • allowing old people to reconnect with them

  • enabling elders to teach young people about traditional routes and places; and

  • sharing and capturing the knowledge encoded within them. 

Elders may have left their desert homelands between the 1940s and 1960s and, until recently, had not been able to return to country due to the remoteness from their communities. As many of the pujiman (desert born) elders are ageing, there is an urgency to support this transfer of knowledge while the knowledge is strong.

Through these trips, young rangers are given permission and instructions to look after the country they have visited. This grounds KJ’s continuing work in its land program. Children and grandchildren are also given an opportunity to see their grandparents’ country — something many had not been previously able to. Kalyuku ninti trips were the first KJ activity because of the priority Martu place on seeing and teaching young people about their country, and so will remain a key part of KJ’s work.

Cultural Camps

Martu should go back to their country and clean out their waterholes. Those old waterholes have lots of stories so Martu should go and be with them.
— Martu elder

Cultural camps provide another means of transferring this knowledge. They focus on discrete skills and practice, so that traditional methods and insights are preserved. The camps involve hands-on activity — some have focused on areas as diverse as traditional seed collection and use, tool-making and the proper use of fire — so they help to embed knowledge and build confidence among the young. These camps are filmed, to preserve a first-hand record of this pujiman knowledge for future generations.

“This belongs to the ancestors, this dance. This is their law that belongs to all the Martu people. The songs that belonged to the place from the dreamtime. Our grandfathers taught us how to dance in the past. They taught us and sang the songs when we were children. We need to show the children and give it to them. These children must be taught how to dance. This is very important for them. Forever it's their law.”

— Waka Taylor, Elder