2009 Milpirri - Jurntu


Lajamanu, Northern Territory

Saturday, October 24, 2009

This year’s Milpirri is based on the Jurntu purlapa. The Jurntu performance teaches a story about kuruwarri (the law) that was given to a woman, Jangiya (Liddy) Nakamarra, in the 1950s or 1960s. It is based on real events that occurred in the late 1800s or early 1900s, concerning a man who committed a very serious crime.

A story about Kuruwarri (the law)

This Milpirri is based on the Jurntu purlapa. Purlapa is a type of open (public) performance and celebration. The Jurntu performance teaches a story about kuruwarri (the law).

Lajamanu is a remote Aboriginal Community in the Northern Territory. The Milpirri project is based on a relationship between its creator Steve Wanta Jampijinpa Patrick (a Warlpiri man from Lajamanu), Lajamanu elders, Tracks Dance Company and the Lajamanu Community Education Centre.

Each responsible for a part of the story

This Milpirri performance contained eighteen sections, ten of which were traditional and eight contemporary. The event was based around a Warlpiri Purlapa (public ceremony) called Jurntu, a ceremony that teaches about law and justice. Four themes were derived from the traditional ceremony: Justice, Respect, Discipline and Responsibility. These themes were matched with songs, stories and metaphors related to traditional Warlpiri artefacts. For example, boomerangs symbolise respect, digging sticks symbolise the search for knowledge and the stone axe is a mark of responsibility. The performance culminates with the songs and dances for the Milky Way. In Warlpiri Law the Milky Way is a symbol of the path or road that a person should follow to be a productive and moral citizen. This Milky Way is also connected with the Emu stories, which stress the importance of teaching, and the Southern Cross stories that outline the essential principles of Warlpiri culture. In Milpirri, as in Warlpiri Law, each family group is responsible for a part of the story and therefore all families must participate in order to deliver a complete message.

What it means to be Australian

In addition, all Milpirri events are based on an understanding of the rain dreaming song cycles and the rain cloud known as Milpirri. The Milpirri cloud is a storm cloud created by turbulent air rising off the desert. The turbulence represents the conflicts that arise between disputing parties. In contemporary times it is seen as a metaphor for the clash between mainstream and Warlpiri world views. The rain that falls after the storm is a symbol of the resolution that must be achieved after conflict. An integral part of all Milpirri performances is the philosophy that Yapa (Warlpiri) and Kardiya (non-indigenous people) must work together to understand each other and that from this position of mutual respect that reconciliation can be achieved, and more informed choices can be made. In the words of Milpirri creator, Steve Wanta Jampijinpa Patrick: “Milpirri is about discovering together what it truly means to be Australian”.

Director’s Notes

The themes of the Jurntu ceremony describe how all Warlpiri people are bound by the law and must face the consequences of their actions. Kuruwarri (the law) explains the proper functioning of the world, including the correct way in which humans should relate to each other and the world around them, as given to Warlpiri people through the Jukurrpa, rather than a set of rules designed and constantly modified by humans to regulate society.


This year’s Milpirri is divided into four sections, each representing a theme from the Jurntu ceremony, with excerpts from the original purlapa performance, as well as modern interpretations performed by younger generations. Each of the colour groups (based on father-son skin groupings) has responsibility for one section.


Speak to the land and the land will speak back
Don’t be afraid to go and find out about the world
You have to be hungry for it, and go hunting for it, and in doing that you are discovering yourself
This year’s Milpirri is about the body, the body of law and laws

Traditional Wirnpa (lightning man) dance


(Jupurrula, Jakamarra, Napurrula and Nakamarra - Red Group)

Bring to balance
Getting back on track
Putting to ease the tension
Moving forward – being accepted back

Youth Artefact dance - Traditional Male Artefact - Mangurlpa (black-headed spear) dispenses justice, restores balance. Traditional Female Artefact - Parraju (coolamon). Ngurlu (grain) is winnowed in the parraju and then ground to make damper. This highly developed skill symbolises the tact, discretion and subtlety needed to understand how to live by kuruwarri.

Traditional Male dance supported by the women - Wampana (Spectacled Hare Wallaby)
The red group have responsibility for many important areas of law and dance the spear and kangaroo songs, two very important bodies of legal knowledge.

Youth Dance boys and girls - Justice.

Traditional Women's dance - Ngurlu (Seed).


(Japaljarri, Jungarrayi, Napaljarri and Nungarrayi - Yellow Group)

This land belongs to us all
We are a body of people - we are the arms and legs of each other
Know that no-one is better than anyone else
Everyone is valued - each group is respected
Every one is equal in the gaining access of the knowledge
Watch out for the lawless one

Youth Artefact dance. Traditional Male artefact – Kali or Wirlki (pair of number ‘7’ boomerangs) given as a sign of respect. Often a gift between teacher and student. Traditional female artefact – Karna (digging stick), finds food to keep us alive
Traditional Male dance - Pulawanti - (Whistling Kite)
Youth Dance - Respect
Traditional Female Dance – Nagatijirri (Green Grass Parrot - budgerigar)


(Japanangka/Japangardi, Napanangka/Napangardi - Green Group)

To be disciplined is to know, understand and follow the law
You will find freedom with yourself, your people and your country
You are not just looking after your story you are looking after everyone's story
Discipline is our tool for keeping our story alive

Youth Artefact Dance. Traditional male artefact - Junma or Wulampi (stone knife). The junma creates the chest scars that are administered ceremonially as a sign that one has demonstrated learning and self-discipline. Conversely, back-scarring is a sign of indiscipline, administered as ritual punishment during mourning ceremonies. Traditional female artefact - Ngalikirri (grinding stone/mortar and pestle) – used to convert seed to flour.
Traditional Male Dance - Wardipi (Goanna)
Youth Dance - Discipline
Traditional Female Dance - Mina Mina


(Jangala/Jampijinpa, Nangala/Nampijinpa - Blue group)

See the Southern Cross in the night sky
Let the Southern Cross sit within you
Let it guide, shape and even carry you
Responsibility is one of the tools to strengthen our identity
Our country and its stories are as unique as each one of us
We are born here
We are responsible for keeping the identity of our country alive

Youth Artefact Dance – Traditional male artefact - Kurrwa (stone axe). The kurrwa is the tool that is used to create all other tools as well as essential for survival on country. It requires significant knowledge and skill to make and is given ceremonially to signify that someone is ready to have the responsibility of using it wisely. Female traditional artefact - mardu (water carrier). The mardu holds life-giving water and symbolically holds those things that nurture the system of life in Warlpiri people and country.
Traditional Male Dance supported by the women - Kurrawa (Stone Axe)
Traditional Female Dance - Ngapa (Water)
Youth Dance - responsibility


This is crown land
Crowned well before the queen
Do you want to see the crown?
Do you want to see an emu fly?
Look above- see the Milky Way
Don’t let others do the hunting for you
Known your strengths
Know your weaknesses
Like a star
Let the law of the land be the light that can shine out in us all
Let it bind us together
Learn the laws of this land
Yungkaju Kurdari
Yungkaju Kurdari
Yungurnaju, Milyapinyi
Ngrarrpara warnarna
Yanirini manu yanirri
Kumumju Ngurlu-rna
Kankanlarra kari
Yungkaju Kurdari

Wulparri (Milky Way) Wantarri-Tarri (Earth Trading Route, Sky Gift Road) - The Southern Cross and Emu (karna-nganja) 

The Milky Way is a road of learning. The sacred emu, a symbol of knowledge, flies within it, the Southern Cross crowning its head. If people learn to read the knowledge encoded within the Milky Way they can learn how to follow the law, to follow the right road and become good Warlpiri citizens. Part of the Milky Way Jukurrpa is danced as the finale in this year’s Milpirri.

Sky Lanterns fly into the sky to become stars in the Milky Way


Creative Director: Steve Wanta Jampijinpa Patrick
Co-Artistic Directors: Tim (Jampijinpa) Newth, David (Japaljarri) McMicken
Producer: Susan Congreve
Lajamanu Elders: Jerry Jangala Patrick, Teddy Jupurrurla Morrison, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert 
Youth Choreography: Nick (Japanangka) Power, Jessica (Napangardi) Devereux, Jenelle (Nakamarra) Saunders
Youth Dance Leader: Caleb Japanangka Patrick

Production and Promotion Personnel

Soundtrack Mixing and Production: Matthew Cunliffe, Dennis Gilbert, Subsonic Studios
Sound and Light Operators / Technical Assistants: Daniel Lade, Neil Macknight
Poster Image and Design: Mark Marcelis
Tracks General Manager: Susan (Nampijinpa) Congreve
Tracks Production Manager: Kelly Blumberg
Tracks Administrator: Gail Evans
Photo Documentation: Peter Eve
DVD Production: Cutting Edge
Editing: Todd Williams
Camera Man: Ian Redfearn
Evaluation Consultant: Miles (Jangala) Holmes


Narration: Steve Wanta Jampijinpa Patrick
Traditional vocals: Jerry Jangala Patrick, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert, Gladys Napangardi Tasman, Molly Napurrurla Tasman, Rosie Napurrurla Tasman, Margrett Nungarrayi Martin, Lily Nungarrayi Hargraves, Judy Napaljarri Walker, Liddy Nampijinpa Miller
Youth Dance Music: Building Steam With a Grain of Salt - DJ Shadow, Say What You Feel - Katalyst featuring Stephanie McKay, Inner City Discipline - Arrested Development, How Many Boys - M.I.A., Lesson 3 – DJ Shadow, The DJ Bacon Mix, Kicking and Screaming - The Presets, Insight - Fort Knox 5
Original Music: Yungkaju Kurdari (Milky Way Song):
Words – Steve Wanta Jampijinpa Patrick
Music: Zac Jakamarra Patterson, Kenneth Jungarrayi Martin, Steve Hannon
Vocals: Zac Jakamarra Patterson, Kenneth Jungarrayi Martin


Jupurrula, Jakamarra, Napurrula and Nakamarra (Red Group)

Male Dancers and Singers: Henry Jakamarra Cook, Teddy Jupurrula Morrison, Tim Jupurrurla Kennedy, Neil Jupurrurla Cook, Shane Jupurrurla White, Titus Jupurrurla White, Dermott Jupurrula Cook, Lyndon Jupurrula Gordon, Lorenzo Jupurrula Lewis, Jake Jakamarra Patterson, Dion Jakamarra Patterson, Zac Jakamarra Patterson (1), Zac Jakamarra Patterson (2), Parker Jakamarra Patterson, Jared Jakamarra Ross

Female Dancers and Singers: Molly Napurrurla Tasman, Rosie Napurrurla Tasman, Mabel Napurrurla Samuels, Doris Nakamarra Lewis, Laura Nakamarra Doolan, Beryl Nakamarra Barnes, Judy Napurrurla Collins, Della Nakamarra Lewis, Noressa Napurrurla White, Mercia Napurrurla Lewis, Charmaine Napurrurla Brown, Jenny Nakamarra Timms, Sabrina Nakamarra Nelson, Mary K Nakamarra Lewis, Barbara Nakamarra Morrison, Belinda Nakamarra Baker, Katrina Nakamarra Penn, Merandah Napurrurla Cook

Male Youth Dancers: Kieran Jupurrurla Dixon, Mike Jupurrurla Patterson, Sheldon Jakamarra James, Troy Jakamarra Peters, Malcolm Jupurrurla Armstrong, Ingo Jakamarra White

Female Youth Dancers: Kira-Lee Napurrurla Rose, Tina Napurrurla Patterson, Keisha Nakamarra White, Leilani Napurrurla Walker, Leonie Nakamarra Patterson, Sinarta Napurrurla Ross, Timirika Nakamarra Patterson

Japaljarri, Jungarrayi, Napaljarri and Nungarrayi (Yellow Group)

Male Dancers and Singers: Dick Japaljarri Raymond, Richard Japaljarri Payton Senior, Roger Japaljarri Jurrah, Kenneth Jungarrayi Martin, Jonas Jungarrayi George, Rohan Jungarrayi George, Breaden Jungarrayi Hogan, Brendon Jungarrayi Payton, Tyson Jungarrayi Rose, Floyd Jungarrayi Rose, Travis Jungarrayi Penn, Mitchell Jungarrayi Rose, Rhys Japaljarri Gibson, Angelo Japaljarri Jigili, Doi (Jungarrayi) Yukihiro, Jimmy Japaljarri Wavehill*, Thomas Jungarrayi Monkey*

Female Dancers and Singers: Myra Nungarrayi Herbert, Margrett Nungarrayi Martin, Lily Nungarrayi Hargraves, Biddy Nungarrayi Jurrah, Beth Nungarrayi Barnes, Lorraine Nungarrayi Granites, Margret Nungarrayi Robertson, Alice Napaljarri Kelly, Judy Napaljarri Walker, Peggy Napaljarri Rockman, Mona Napaljarri Rockman, Sonya Napaljarri Cooke, Louise Napaljarri Payton, Lorraine Nungarrayi Macdonald, Francine Nungarrayi Rose, Gracie Napaljarri Rankin, Dulcie Napaljarri Herbert, Annette Napaljarri Herbert, Amy Napaljarri Cook

Male Youth Dancers: Ananais Japaljarri Tasman, Corey Jungarrayi Raymond, Richard Japaljarri Payton, Saverio Jungarrayi Jurrah, Ananias Japaljarri Payton, Brad Japaljarri Jigili, Costello Japaljarri Ronson, Lucas Jungarrayi Walker

Female Youth Dancers: Renata Nungarrayi Gordon, Katelyn Nungarrayi Moketarija, Clarise Napaljarri McDonald, Rayneisha Napaljarri Rose, Tiffaney Napaljarri Edwards, Rexana Nungarrayi Herbert, Leitisha Nungarrayi Rankin

Japangardi, Japanangka, Napangardi and Napanangka (Green Group)

Male Dancers and Singers: Joe Japanangka James, Rex Japanangka Granites, Maxwell Japanangka Tasman, Dylan Japanangka Gordon, Shaun Japangardi Johnson, Minawara Japangardi Dixon, Amos Japangardi Miller, Rhys Japangardi Carlton, Paddy Japangardi Doolak*

Female Dancers and Singers: Judy Napangardi Martin, Biddy Napangardi Raymond, Gladys Napangardi Tasman, Lynette Napangardi Tasman, Denise Napangardi Tasman, Christine Napanangka Johnson, Kitty Napanangka Simon, Emma Napanangka Morrison, Leanne Napangardi Scobie, Amanda Napangardi Dixon, Myra Napangardi Johnson, Delvene Napangardi Dixon, Kathleen Napangardi Sambo*, Molly Napangardi Dodd*, Topsy Napangardi Dodd*

Male Youth Dancers: Caleb Japanangka Patrick, Neano Japangardi Bedford, Nicky Japanangka James, Stephen Japangardi Daniels, Brent Japangardi Tasman, Davon Japanangka Marks-Burns, Nickholas Japangardi Johnson, Patrick Japangardi Bradshaw, Daniel Japangardi Nelson

Female Youth Dancers: Sophia Napanangka Poulson, Jaynita Napangardi Gordon, Celine Napangardi Tasman, Desbina Napangardi Nelson, Kenesha Napangardi Gordon, Macala Napangardi Donnelly, Lyndal Napangardi Dixon

Jangala, Jampijinpa, Nangala and Nampijinpa (Blue Group)

Male Dancers and Singers: Jerry Jangala Patrick, Peter Jangala Raymond, Thomas Jangala Sampson, Toby Jangala Martin, Michael Jangala Watson, Leslie Jampijinpa Robertson, Billy Jampijinpa Bunter, Norman Jampijinpa Kelly, Dion Jangala Kelly, Edmond Jangala Kelly, Steven Jangala Robertson, Tarrpa Jangala Patrick, Ashley Jangala Patrick, Scotty Jangala Patrick, Hamish Jangala Burns, Gaberille Jangala Driver, Clinton Jampijinpa Kelly, Felix Jampijinpa Jigili, Tony Jampijinpa Sampson, Liam Jampijinpa Kelly, Ronnie Jangala Wavehill*, Steven Jangala Wavehill*

Female Dancers and Singers: Liddy Nampijinpa Miller, Annette Nampijinpa Patrick, Angela Nangala Kelly, Jasman Nangala Patrick, Mantrina Nangala Robertson, Lavah Nangala Kelly, Kylie Nangala Patrick, Atrina Nangala Robertson, Priscilla Nangala Robertson, Patsy Nangala Herbert, Teresa Nangala Yibworn *, Biddy Nangala Wavehill*, Peggy Nangala Manbulloo*

Male Youth Dancers: Howard Jangala Sampson, Michaelis Jangala Sampson, Shannon Jampijinpa Rose, Kealyn Jampijinpa Kelly, Desmond Jampijinpa Robertson, Elijah Jampijinpa Kelly, Joe Jangala Foster, Norbert Jampijinpa Patrick, Hendrix Jangala Burns

Female Youth Dancers: Lavina Nangala Sampson, Cheryl-lee Nampijinpa Rose, Courtney Nampijinpa Patrick, Kiara-Xena Nampijinpa Rose, Richache Nampijinpa Jigili, Shekira Nampijinpa Robertson, Trixie Nangala Patrick, Wakukuta Nangala Patrick, * Wave Hill Dancers and Singers

Thank You

Patty Japaljarri Simms (Wulpararri), Otto Jungarrayi Simms, The Sky Lantern team, the Wave Hill mob, Lajamanu School staff, Central Desert Shire staff, Michael (Japanangka) Erglis, Paul Davies, Miles (Jangala) Holmes, Robert Chapman, The Lajamanu Clinic, Alan Marshall, Jessica Groves, Mevlana Adil, Dr Stephen Wild, our family and friends and a special thank you to the clan group leaders who released their paintings, song cycles, Dreaming stories and ceremonies for public display.


Lajamanu School, Central Desert Shire, Northern Tanami IPA, Southern Cross Television

Funding Bodies

Rio Tinto Aboriginal Fund, GMAAAC (Granites Mines Affected Areas Aboriginal Corporation), Newmont Asia Pacific, Lajamanu Progress Association,
Tracks is assisted by: the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; and the Northern Territory Government

Tracks 2009

Artistic Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
General Manager (Acting): Susan Congreve
Dance Animateurs: Julia Quinn, Jessica Devereux
Administrator: Gail Evans, Ciella Williams, Kelly Beneforti
Bookkeeper: Julie Ann Stark
Development Consultant: Suzanne Fermanis
Production Manager: Kelly Blumberg

Committee Members: (Chair) Jill MacAndrew, (Vice-Chair) David Taylor, (Treasurer) Glenn Bernardin, (Secretary/Public Officer) Traci Keys, (Ordinary Committee Members) Ken Conway, Nick Papandonakis, Joanna Barrkman, Donna Quong, (Ex-Officio Members) David McMicken and Tim Newth

Public Fund Trustees: Rev. Steve Orme, Dr Anita Toth, Paul Wan




Explore Further 

Lajamanu/Milpirri Home Page

Milpirri Dances - Videos

Iconic Tracks Works

Milpirri Banners

2012 Milpirri - Pulyaranyi

Audience Response

"This Milpirri is one of the best things that the world should know about. Milpirri, it shows that Warlpiri people have Law and Justice. Law and Justice is a Kardiya word but we have Law and Justice in place but with dance, singing, the paintings. The discipline is in our rites and it can be shown to a lot of these children, the younger generation. It [Milpirri] brings people together and shows the world that we have something in common. They have it and we have it too but ours has always been here. Songs, dance, the lot. We are so proud we like to get our kids to train. The government is saying fill the gap, we can do it easy with this. Give us the funds and we can do more of this stuff in our own way." Rex Granites Japanangka (Warlpiri Elder and PhD candidate at Australian National University)

"Tonight was an amazing night to bring everyone together to celebrate together. Because our Law mixes in now with the Kardiya Law as well - bringing us together to stand together and to walk together on the same path and hopefully that will continue so that we can work together and live together and share together and care together, that is what Milpirri is all about. Milpirri does benefit our young people by bringing our young people into the light so that they can share their culture and we can continuing showing our culture to the young ones as well. Hopefully next year we can have a bigger Milpirri which will draw more people, not only people from around Australia but hopefully people from overseas will come to Lajamanu." Peter Jigili Jangala (Council Member)

"Milpirri is very unique cultural festival. It brings together old people and young people, traditional culture and contemporary influences, Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people in what is a spectacular and inspiring cross cultural event. Importantly too, the festival promotes the importance of education to young people and helps them to make connections between the old ways and life in the 21st Century." Paul Davis (Community Relations Coordinator Newmont Asia Pacific)

"I can’t thank you guys enough. Milpirri is the biggest and most exciting thing to happen to Lajamanu and we all really appreciate it." Andrew (Lajamanu Air Chief Pilot)

"I loved old men dancing, I loved old women dancing – I watched old yellow men and yellow is my skin group." Comments from Grade 3,4,5 class.

"This thing called Milpirri, I think every communities needs it."  Chris  Marshall (who was in Lajamanu in the late 60's and early 70's)

Cast Response

"[I’m] really looking forward to future dances with Milpirri." Myra Herbert Nungarrayi (Warlpiri Elder and Dancer)

"Milpirri is the only chance we got today, showing our community, showing our young children. It is not for the old people but we see our elders, our tribe at Yuendumu are losing control of the young people, our older people are outnumbered there, none of our older people are willing to take the lead and get these young people back. The only way we can show Nyirripi, Yuendumu, Willowra, Ti-Tree is by setting up this Milpirri which is already working. A lot of our people from there now they think it is really good and they agree with it and now young people are starting to sort of take a step. And say "ahh yeah, that is the kind of things you old people used to do before, we are seeing it now". It is the things that we are giving them, the guidelines. Not only the guidelines to follow from the old people but the guidelines we have to give them to bring our young people forward. These are the things they need to follow. Milpirri is the way."  Billy Bunter Jampijinpa (Warlpiri Elder)

"Milpirri is so they can remember that for the future, for everyone, passing it from generation to generation."  Tim Kennedy Jupurrula (Warlpiri Elder)

"For non indigenous and indigenous people. Kardiya and yapa together. Tonight we been join together on this Milpirri reason, this ceremony, and everybody had a really good ceremony tonight. Dancing, singing, really good one." Jerry Jangala (Warlpiri Elder)

"Did you see those old men applauding? That is not very normal for Warlpiri. They applauded the women and kids because it was spontaneous. They enjoyed what each other had achieved. Also, I got a hug from one of my family members, it is not normal for a Warlpiri to hug your niece of nephew, but she couldn’t help it. She was proud of me and the whole thing – how often do Warlpiri get to feel proud of their family and kids."  Steve Wanta Patrick Jampijinpa (Milpirri creator)

(Note: English is a second or third language for many Warlpiri people. All comments were given in English and have been edited only sparingly. Kardiya means non-indigenous and yapa means Warlpiri people.)


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