HISTORY OF OUR SOUTHERN ARRERNTE FAMILY
/ COMMUNITY GROUP
The Arrernte speaking people were those
who occupied most of the choice regions in the Mac Donnell
Ranges. Their territory stretched about 110 kilometres to
both West and East and was about 330 kilometres in extent
from North and South.
Though forming one language group, the Arrernte were divided
into six sub groups, each with its particular territory. These
sub-groups were further divided into small family or kin groups,
all bound by the very rigid system of authority governed by
intermarriage and movements over another group Estate .
The boundaries of Estates of these sub groups were fixed by
the ancestral being and varied greatly in size.
In the 1880's Dick "Penangke" Taylor was born at
Mount Boal , and over the next 86 years, he had 9 children.
From his First wife Mary, Harry , Alex , Alison , Willy ,
Sam , Peter , Myra ( Kanikiya) , and Mavis. From his second
wife , he had a son Robert.
Altogether there are now 36 grand children and 126 great grand
children that makes up the Pwerte Marnte Marnte Aboriginal
Corporation , (a community as it is known today).
OUR HOME , OUR LAND
The Pwerte Marnte Marnte Aboriginal Corporation
is a community / family Southern Arrernte tribal group whose
homeland is situated 100 km south of Alice Springs, near
WE DON'T OWN THIS LAND,
THE LAND OWNS US !
It is difficult for others to appreciate
this identity, as the anthropologist Professor W.E.H. Stanner
found when he tried to put it into words for non-Aboriginals
to understand :
"No English words are good enough to give a sense of
the links between an Aboriginal group and its homeland.
Our word "home", warm and suggestive though it
be, does not match the Aboriginal word that may mean "camp",
"heart", "country", "everlasting
home", "totem place", "life source",
"spirit centre", and much else all in one. Our
word "land" is too spare and meagre. We can now
scarcely use it except with economic overtones unless we
happen to be poets.
The Aboriginal would speak of "earth and use the word
in a richly symbolic way to mean his "shoulder"
or his "side". I have seen an Aboriginal embrace
the earth he walked on. To put our words "home"
and "land" together into "homeland"
is a little better but not much. A different tradition leaves
us tongueless and earless towards this other world of meaning
and significance. When we took what we call "land"
we took what to them meant home, the source and locus of
life, and everlastingness of spirit.
Since the early 1970's small groups
of Aboriginal people have been moving away from larger settlements
like Alice Springs, to establish outstation communities
in the bush. The outstation or homeland movement reflects
a desire by Aboriginal people to reafirm links with their
land and their culture. At outstations there are still people
who hunt and gather, live in bush shelters little different
from pre-contact ones, and participate fully in ritual.
However, the outstation movement does not represent a simple
return to the pre-contact past or a rejection of introduced
goods. People have adopted and adapted European technology
and foods to suit their own needs.
In 1990, a group of elders descendants of Penangke in conjunction
with the Central land Council negotiated with the owners
of the Orange Creek Station leasehold and small incisions
of 1500 hectares to re-establish their community.
This Community living area was granted in 1993. Since that
time 7 houses have been built and a power generator have
In 1997, the community started a work program with 8 trainees
enrolled in small business and tourism courses in Alice