Patjala – Traditional healing in the Western Desert

Patjala is a Martu Aboriginal word which literally means ‘to bite.’ In a traditional medical context the term also denotes the deep sucking or cupping action of the shaman or mapantjara when he bites and sucks the affected part of a client’s body in order to remove the harmful affliction believed to be causing his or … Continued

Dream spirit journey to country

“My spirit know the way to place where I been born – it travels like kiirr-kiirrpa (hawk) to my ngurra – that’s my “Patjuntjari” (dream spirit journey). (*Jimmy, traditional Mapantjara/ shaman) I first encountered the phenomenon of “dream flying” during a field trip to Wiluna in January 1975. It was late December, the hottest time … Continued

Beware: Bush food can be dangerous

Australian indigenous “bush foods” over the years have become a big business with gourmet restaurants and the ever-expanding cultural tourist industry. This is all well and good but in Western Australia the bush-tucker industry is largely unregulated. It is not that we are seeking to impose strict government regulations over the bush tucker industry but … Continued

Indigenous science

For over 50,000 years the Noongar people of southwestern Australia possessed a complex scientific understanding of the natural world. They were familiar with the phenological breeding cycles and feeding habits of animals, birds, plants, reptiles and fish on which they depended for food. They were probably the world’s first astronomers in that they relied on … Continued

Noongar artefacts: evidence of coastal habitation at South Cottesloe

The hammer stone was found in a sand dune in the vicinity of the Vlamingh Memorial. The artefact is made from a fossiliferous sedimentary material (source of stone unknown).  Description: oval shaped, length 100mm, width 80mm, thickness 20mm, weight 450 grams. Colour grey, texture course grained. Pitting and some battering marks at the centre on … Continued

Kudjil the Crow man at Cottesloe

In an earlier paper https://anthropologyfromtheshed.com/project/ethnography-of-mudurup-rocks-in-cottesloe-and-its-connection-to-rottnest-island-wadjemup/we talked briefly about a notorious historical character by the name of Johnny Cudgel whose epic story merged with the pre-existing narrative of the ancestral Crow man at Mudurup (now Cottesloe). In early times the ancestral totemic crow/crowman was the over-arching mythology of the coastal strip at Mudurup.  The traditional belief was that crows (wardung, … Continued

Aboriginal sites are an important part of the heritage of the whole community

Why does the Western Australian State Government permit a foreign-owned cement company to gradually destroy through hard rock quarrying a portion of the Darling Escarpment adjacent to the popular John Forrest National Park? This quarrying activity is not only destroying pristine vegetation but is slowly desecrating one of Perth’s most ancient and unique Aboriginal site … Continued

Typha

  How many of us know that Noongar people of southwestern Australia seasonally harvested one of the most ancient carbohydrates known to humankind that derived from the succulent rhizomes of Typha or the common bulrush found along the margins of rivers, lakes and seasonal wetlands. The Noongar called this food plant yanjet – a term which alludes to … Continued