Connecting old and young people to country

In May of this year, Waltja had a Directors meeting in Alice Springs. Waltja’s Santa Teresa Director Mia Mulladad along with Anne Maree McMillan, Matthew Alice and Gertie Palmer sat down together and made a plan for a camp. They wanted a camp for elders to pass on knowledge and connect young people to country and culture. They wanted photos and a movie to be shared with the Santa Teresa community.

In September, the Santa Teresa Waltja Culture camp was held at Philipson Bore. Charlie Tako and Allan O’Dea from Waltja’s Family Mental Health and Reconnect programs took two troopies, swags, food, water and camping gear. The elders who went on the camp were: Mia Mulladad, Shorty Mulladad, Carmel Ryan, Patricia Oliver (Jonesy), Annie Ryder and Mary Anne Ryder. Matthew Alice came on the camp as a community worker for Waltja’s Family Mental Health program.

Elders teach young women

During the camp, the women from Santa Teresa went on a bush trip with Allan in the green troopy. Mia and Carmel told the young women what trees to look for to make terurre (music clap sticks). Mia and Carmel taught the young women which branches to cut down and how to cut the wood to the right size. Latissa John, Natarlia Alice and Allan took photos and videos of the terurre being made while Mia told stories in Arrernte about the terurre.

Next we found lots of bush medicine and bush food. Mia told stories about the bush medicines and Carmel told stories about the bush food.  Anita Williams filmed Mia and Carmel telling stories and Cassara Heffernan took photos.

Mia showed how to use the arlketyerre tree for treating warts. She said, “When you got lots of wart, we come and collect these little sharp things like a little needle you know, we put it around the wart but you have to push it right in until it bleeds”.

Carmel taught us that the Arrernte people used the untyeyampe (bush honey) to make a bush drink. Carmel said to make this bush honey drink you, “put it in the water and keep it overnight and in the morning it would be like cordial”.

Once all the wood, bush medicine and food had been collected and stories had been told, the women went back to the camp site at Philipson Bore. The women turned the wood into terrurre by carving and sanding and Mia showed the young women how to make rubbing medicine.

Elder teaches the young men

The young men on the Santa Teresa camp learnt how to make alye (boomerangs) and irrtyarte (spears) from Shorty Mulladad. To make the alye, the men went on a bush trip with Allan in the green troopy and with Charlie in the yellow troopy to make the spears.

On the bush trip to make alye, Shorty told the young men to look for artetye (mulga trees). When the men found lots of artetye, they got out of the troopy and Shorty showed them good branches for making alye. Shorty told the young men which branches could be used to make different shapes of alye. The group decided that the alye they would make would be one that you throw and comes back.

Allan took axes and saws from Waltja for the men to cut the artetye branches. Shorty showed the young men how to cut the artetye. All the men worked together and took turns with the axe and saw. The young men and Allan took photos and used the Ipad to film.

The next day at the campsite, Shorty showed the young men how to turn the artetye branch into an alye using axes, chisels and sandpaper. The young men listened to Shorty and worked together as a team to make the alye. Both the young men and women took turns in filming and taking photos.

The young men then went with Charlie and Shorty in the yellow troopy to find uyernpere (trees that grow in the hills). The men found uyernpere and used axes and saws to cut the uyernpere.

The men then took the uyernpere back to the camp to make irrtyarte (spears). Shorty showed the young men how to put the uyernpere in the fire. He also showed them how to use the tools to make irrtyarte. The young men continued to work for the rest of the camp to make both the irrtyarte and the alye.

The young men made several irrtyarte and Shorty told them stories about how the old people made irrtyarte tying the spear head to the irrtyarte with string from inside a kangaroo. There was not enough time on the camp to finish the alye but Shorty, Allan and Charlie will take the young men on a bush trip sometime soon to finish making the alye.