Return to country (Kalyuku ninti ) trips take young and old people back to their traditional homelands, visiting key sites, allowing old people to reconnect with them and enabling the elders to teach young people about traditional routes and places and 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 remote from their communities. Their children and grandchildren had not seen their grandparents’ country. Kalyuku ninti trips were the first KJ activity because of the priority Martu place on seeing and teaching young people about their country. They remain a key part of KJ’s work.
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.
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 in future generations. Many of the pujiman (desert born) elders who were born in the desert are aging. There is an urgency to support this transfer of knowledge while the knowledge is strong.
Cultural camps provide another means of transferring this knowledge. They focus on discrete skills and practice, so that traditional methods and insights are preserved. Camps have focused on areas as diverse as traditional seed collection and use, tool-making and the proper use of fire. Because the camps involve hands-on activity, 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.