Something About Emus: Bininj Stories from Western Arnhem Land

Something About Emus: Bininj Stories from Western Arnhem Land

by Murray Garde


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The emu is an iconic Australian bird of significance to all Australians, but especially so to Indigenous Australians who have had a special relationship with this curious animal for thousands of years. In this bilingual, highly illustrated, full-color publication Something about emus reveals valuable ecological knowledge in a collection of essays by senior members of the Bininj Kunwok language group from Kakadu National Park and Western Arnhem Land.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781922059154
Publisher: Aboriginal Studies Press
Publication date: 01/01/2018
Edition description: Bilingual
Pages: 158
Product dimensions: 6.75(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Murray Garde is a Research Fellow in the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University. He has lived and worked for many years in western Arnhem Land and Kakadu National Park working with speakers of the Bininj Kunwok language in a variety of areas including land management, traditional music, environmental knowledge and language maintenance programs.

Table of Contents

List of contributors vii

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction xv

Reading and writing Bininj Kunwok words xxiv

A guide to pronunciation xxv

Vowels xxv

Diphthongs xxv

Consonants xxv

Long stops and short stops xxvii

Hyphens xxvii

Part I Talking about emus 1

Chapter 1 Bininj Elder Jimmy Kalarriya talks about emus with Peter Biless Nabarlambarl and Don Nakadilinj Namunjdja at Manmoyi Outstation 3

Where do we find her, the emu? 7

Emus and water 9

Emu's predators 12

What emus do during the day 14

Reproduction 14

Emu nesting 15

Hunting emus 19

Emus and fire 20

Chapter 2 Jack Nawilil and Jimmy Kalarriya talk about emus at Bolkdjam Outstation 25

Names, social classification of emus, emu clans and sites of significance 26

Where they go and what they eat 31

Predators 34

Emu movements 35

Reproduction 36

Diet 37

More on movements 38

Preparing and cooking emus 39

Dividing the meat 39

Burning country: fire and emus 40

Emu population change 43

Emus and fruit gathering 43

Emu gender 44

Chapter 3 Mick Kubarkku and family from Yikarrakkal talk about emus 45

Predators 51

Nesting and hatching the chicks 52

Diet 55

Emu scats 57

Chapter 4 Jack Djandjomerr and Josie Maralngurra talk about emus at Kabulwarnamyo Outstation 59

Emu diet - food and water 61

Gender and reproduction 64

More on emu diet 66

Emus and fire 67

Hunting emus 69

Chapter 5 George Djandjomerr talks about emus at Manabudduma 71

Emu and her names 73

Habitat 74

Predators 79

Emu gender 80

Emu movements 81

The emus near Marlkawo - diet, fire, vocalisations 82

Emus, fire and hunting 85

Cooking emus 86

Chapter 6 Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek and Mary Kolkkiwarra talk about emus at Kabulwarnamyo

Outstation 87

Emu gender 92

Habitat 92

Emus and water 95

Emus and predators 95

Emu movements 99

Emu reproduction 100

Emu eggs and cultural taboos 103

Emu diet 105

Emus and fire 109

Hunting emus 110

Life in the bush hunting emus and other animals 112

Part II Three greedy emu stories: Nicholas Evans, with Toby Gangali and Jimmy Kalarriya 111

Introduction 113

Toby Gangali's version 115

Jummy Kalarriya's Kundedjnjenghmi version 122

Dalabon version by Jack Chadum and Don Bunindjawa 124

Conclusion 127

Part III Cooking an emu in an underground oven at Mumeka Jon Altman 131

The Photos: Ngabenbimmey 'I took photos of them' 133

Notes from My Field Diary 142

Some contemporary commentary 145

Appendix 1 Collated by Wendy Telfer and Murray Garde: summary of information about emus 147

Appendix 2 Dalabon, anthropologists and the greedy emu story 153

Appendix 3 Bininj Kunwok and other language names and associated information for emus in Arnhem Land 156

Appendix 4 Skin names or subsections in Western Arnhem Land 157

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