Queen Defender of the faith: Creation Story

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Creation Story

This is the creation story of Ngiyaampaa country, as well as the land belonging to Eaglehawk and Crow.

Now long, long time ago of course, in the beginning, when there was no people, no trees, no plants whatever on this land, "Guthi-guthi", the spirit of our ancestral being, he lived up in the sky.

So he came down and he wanted to create the special land for people and animals and birds to live in.

So Guthi-guthi came down and he went on creating the land for the people-after he'd set the borders in place and the sacred sights, the birthing places of all the Dreamings, where all our Dreamings were to come out of.



Guthi-guthi put one foot on Gunderbooka Mountain and another one at Mount Grenfell.

And he looked out over the land and he could see that the land was bare. There was no water in sight, there was nothing growing. So Guthi-guthi knew that trapped in a mountain-Mount Minara-the water serpent, Weowie, he was trapped in the mountain. So Guthi-guthi called out to him, "Weowie, Weowie", but because Weowie was trapped right in the middle of the mountain, he couldn't hear him.

Guthi-guthi went back up into the sky and he called out once more, "Weowie", but once again Weowie didn't respond. So Guthi-guthi came down with a roar like thunder and banged on the mountain and the mountain split open. Weowie the water serpent came out. And where the water serpent travelled he made waterholes and streams and depressions in the land.

So once all that was finished, of course, Weowie went back into the mountain to live and that's where Weowie lives now, in Mount Minara. But then after that, they wanted another lot of water to come down from the north, throughout our country. Old Pundu, the Cod, it was his duty to drag and create the river known as the Darling River today.

So Cod came out with Mudlark, his little mate, and they set off from the north and they created the big river. Flows right down, water flows right throughout our country, right into the sea now.

And of course, this country was also created, the first two tribes put in our country were Eaglehawk and Crow. And from these two tribes came many tribal people, many tribes, and we call them sub-groups today. So my people, the Ngiyaampaa people and the Barkandji further down are all sub-groups of Eaglehawk and Crow.

So what I'm telling you-the stories that were handed down to me all come from within this country.


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'Dreamtime' or 'Dreaming'
The expression 'Dreamtime' is most often used to refer to the 'time before time', or 'the time of the creation of all things', while 'Dreaming' is often used to refer to an individual's or group's set of beliefs or spirituality.

For instance, an Indigenous Australian might say that they have Kangaroo Dreaming, or Shark Dreaming, or Honey Ant Dreaming, or any combination of Dreamings pertinent to their 'country'. However, many Indigenous Australians also refer to the creation time as 'The Dreaming'.

What is certain is that 'Ancestor Spirits' came to Earth in human and other forms and the land, the plants and animals were given their form as we know them today.

These Spirits also established relationships between groups and individuals, (whether people or animals) and where they traveled across the land, or came to a halt, they created rivers, hills, etc., and there are often stories attached to these places.

Once their work was done, the Ancestor Spirits changed again; into animals or stars or hills or other objects. For Indigenous Australians, the past is still alive and vital today and will remain so into the future. The Ancestor Spirits and their powers have not gone, they are present in the forms into which they changed at the end of the 'Dreamtime' or 'Dreaming', as the stories tell.

The stories have been handed down through the ages and are an integral part of an Indigenous person's 'Dreaming'.


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Emu and the Jabiru

The stories that have been told by the storytellers from up here-Arnhem Land-actually talk about the land. Yolngu land, Yolngu culture, Yolngu tradition, Yolngu way of living.
What we mean by Yolngu is an Aboriginal. It can also mean as a person whether black or white. In this case when we talk about Yolngu we're talking about the black people. The opposite we call Balanda. Balanda means the white people.

The reason why Clancy moved out here-one of the main reasons- is this is more like the main land for Gapuwiyak. The main country. Gapuwiyak is a part of this country.

So in other words, the sacred objects, the cultural stories for Gapuwiyak really come from here and Gapuwiyak is like a suburb of this land. That's why he chose to come out here, because this is where his cultural background is, here. His culture, his sacred objects and everything. That's why he chose to come out. Even though there's no facilities here, he calls it home.

For Gapuwiyak this is more a public place. This is more his backyard, you know, because of the sacred objects here.

The story about the Emu and the Jabiru, as told by Clancy Guthijpuy Marrkula talks about sharing; greed; the country here, the land here. Talks about two different people; the Dhuwa people and the Yirritja people. The countries across Arnhem Land are all sort of connected. There's always got to a be Dhuwa land and there's always got to be a Yirritja land. They always come together and the people here come under these two categories. You can only be a Yirritja and you can only be a Dhuwa.

The main reason why we like to educate our own kids, because with stories like this, it also includes the tradition, they learn about particular clans. Clancy believes that they should be told to Yolngu and Balanda, so people can have more idea about him and his land and his stories and have respect for his people and his land.

And his culture.

Clancy said earlier that schools are important, a good learning place. So we believe that schools are places where kids learn a lot in the Balanda curriculum, the Yolngu way, Yolngu stories. So, yeah, imagine seeing this in schools today across Australia would be really manymak (great) for Clancy and his story. And his people and his country.

Clancy's saying that it's very important for the Western kids too, to learn about Aboriginal stories and their land and their involvement. Because they want to learn about these kinds of stories. The same way as we learnt about these stories. In other words, we're educating our kids, but through modern technology, using videos, cameras and all that.

(Clancy Interjects)

What Clancy said is "everything's alright."

(Bangana Wunungmurra. Arnhem Land, Northern Territory 1997)


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Gulaga

This story is about Gulaga, which is our mother mountain, our sacred mountain. It's about her two sons Najanuga and Barranguba.
Barranguba is Montague Island, that's what the white people call it. Barranguba is the older son of Gulaga and the way the story goes is that, Gulaga she had two sons-Barranguba and Najanuga and Barranguba was the oldest.

Just like the older son or older brother who gets sick of living near their mother, he moves away. So Barranguba asked his Mum could he move away from her side for a bit and he went out into the sea to watch the actions of all the fishes and whales. Take care of all that.

The little brother, he saw the big brother going out and he said to Gulaga 'Mum, mum, can I go out too? I'm big. I'm grown up, can I go out and watch the fish and the whales?'

She said, 'No, son. You are too little. If I let you go out there, you'd get swallowed up by Gadu, the sea. I'll put you down near the foot of me, so I can watch you and you can watch your brother out in the ocean.'

She put him down where he is now and that's where he stayed, to watch the actions of his brother while under the eye of his mother. We call that little mountain `mummy's little boy', because he's always with his mum.



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How the water got to the plains


This is where we used to come every year for our holidays. It was called One Tree and the one tree was a wynnum which is called a pandanus. We would camp up on top of the knoll here and the horses were always on a string down in the gully. And we would sit up there in the early morning, wrapped in our blankets, and we'd watch the sun rise. And we'd listen to the birds as they sang and welcomed the sun as it came up.

This was a very important place to my sister and I, because it was here that we learned all the little stories from the early, early days. These stories were actually the education system of the people, the Butchulla people.

The children who lived on the island here, I'm not talking about ten years, twenty years ago, I'm talking about a couple of thousand years ago see, they had their different social commitments. The children here were used to such a tremendous amount of water around about them, so the time would come when the family would have to go west, not only for trading. So the family would pack up and, for the first time, the children were taught that they had to look after water while they walking.

There were certain places through the journey were permanent waterholes, such as the Womi waterholes, Banban Springs and on a particular trip, right out to Cloncurry, the children learned that not all the places were like Fraser Island where there were plenty of creeks and lakes and on the mainland there were rivers, any amount of water. So for the first time, they learned to save water and to use only what was in their eel-a-mun, or their water-carriers. Then they would come out onto the plains and see these beautiful billabongs and the first thing they would say, 'How did the water get to the plains?'

And so, the story, the first story, is always about the land when it wasn't finished. We have the people living on the mountain and one side towards the sea was beautiful and they didn't worry about the back side. It was just a dry, empty plain. And this is how the children of this area learned that not everywhere in Australia is there an abundance of water.

(Olga Miller. Fraser Island, Queensland, 1997)

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