Milpirri Banner - MINA MINA (Karnta/Women Dreaming)

Milpirri Banner - MINA MINA (Karnta/Women Dreaming)


Karnta (Women Dreaming) at Mina Mina.

Belonging to Skin Groups

Japangardi, Japanangka, Napangardi and Napanangka (Green Group)

Drawn By

Joe Japanangka James (dec), 2005

Artist Bio

Born at Lurnpakurlangu (Mt Doreen) of the Warlpiri tribe, his country Janyinki and Dreamings are Mardukuja-mardukuja (Women) and Warna (Snake). He lived at Lajamanu where he worked for many years as a police aide. He was first employed in 1985 as part of the NT Police Aide program. He and his wife Irene used to work together at the Art Centre. He started painting in 1986. After Japanangka retired as a Police Aide he remained an active figure in community leadership, particularly in the realm of law and justice. This included monitoring both transgressions of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal law.  He was a key member of the Lajamanu Kurdiji Law and Justice group. 

Bio source: Design and Art Australia Online with additions by Miles Holmes.

Artwork created by Joe Japanangka James held in the National Gallery of Victoria - Photos

Joe Japanangka James was first employed in 1985 as part of the NT Police aide program read more about this program - Story

Oral History

Read a statement from Joe Japanangka James about his Kurdiji work (scroll down page to view) - Story / Photo


This banner describes the place called Mina Mina. Mina Mina is a very important site in the far west of Warlpiri country. It is part of the Karnta Karnta (Women Dreamings) as the story is about a group of ancestral women of who travelled far to the east beyond the boundaries of their Warlpiri Country. The women began their journey at Mina Mina, where the first Digging Sticks, (Karlangu), emerged from the ground.


Read a statement from Joe Japanangka James about his Kurdiji work on page 6 of this book - Map

See the location of Mina Mina on the South Tanami IPA. Either click on the "Jukuurpa Yirdiyi Kari-Yardiyi Kari" tab, or change to English and click on the "Jukurrpa map" tab. Look in the south-west. - Map


There are families who speak for Mina Mina in Yuenduma, Lajamanu and beyond. Start with Dixon, Seela, Donnelly, and James families.


During 2016, Warlpiri women held three Yawulyu revitalisation workshops in Yuendumu. Many generations of Warlpiri women attended, singing various Yawulyu, painting the associated body designs, performing the dances and telling the associated stories. 

Yawulyu 'Songs of the travelling women from Minamina', on ICTV - Video


Karlanguju kalalunyanurla yiri-manu yarlakuju - kantingki.

They used to sharpen their digging sticks with a quartz blade (to dig) for yams.

Karlangu kalalu muru-pungu kaninjarrakari. Yurnkuyurnku-manu karlangu. Ngulangka kalalu nyangu ngapalku.
They thrust their digging sticks right down. They moved them to and fro. They would then see the water on them.

Lawalpalunyanu jurru panturnu karlangurlu.
They used to just pierce their heads with a digging stick.

Kana karnalu ngarrirni, watiya. Walyaku karlanjaku. Yangka kurupapiyayijala. Kanangku karnalu karla walyaji. Karlami karnalu kanangkujuku - watiyarlu wardijirli, wakirlpirrirli. Ngulajangkaji karnalu pilingki yalirlinya kijirni walyaji kanajangkaji watiyajangkaji.
A kana is something made out of wood to dig the earth with. It is like a crowbar. We use a kana to dig up the earth with. We dig using a kana made out of mulga wood or out of Dogwood. When we have dug up the earth with our digging stick (kana), we then remove it with a small flat wooden scoop (pili).

Kanaparntarlurna jirrama kirrapa pakarnu.
I hit two goannas with a digging-stick.

Nyanungu kurduju, miri kujakalu ngurrju-mani, kaninjarni, rdilypirr-yinyi, pantirni kalu kanangku.
That shield, the handle that they make, under it, they pierce a hole, they pierce it with a digging stick.

Kana kalu ngurrju-mani karntangkuju. Larrilpi-maniyijala kalu kanaji yarlakungarnti.
Digging sticks are what women make. They also sharpen the digging sticks before going to dig up yams.

Dictionary Source: Laughren, M., K. L. Hale, and Warlpiri Lexicology Group, 2005 Warlpiri-English Encyclopaedic Dictionary. (Accessed Via Kirrkirr Interface to Electronic Files.) University of Queensland.

Milpirri Dance

In the Milpirri performances, Mina Mina has been danced by the women. In a description of the dancer’s action, it is said: They go kakarra (east) and then come back. (This is the coming back part of the story.) They are singing and dancing all the way. Then they sit down and throw their kurlarda (spears) away to show that it is the end - Video

Read more

Read more about Mina Mina at the other Karnta (Women Dreaming) banner painted by Joe Japanangka James - Photos / Information


Joe Japanangka James drew the design for this Milpirri banner - Mina Mina. Photo Peter Eve 2007
Joe Japanangka James at Milpirri 2007. Photo Peter Eve
Nicky Japanangka James proudly paints his grandfathers Karnta design onto boomerangs for the 2018 Milpirri performance.
Women's Milpirri dancing boards and clap sticks 2018.

Tracks Dance Company Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

Tracks Inc is proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government.

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