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Thursday, 02 October 2014, 05:41 (05:41 AM) CDT, day 275 of 2014

Prehistoric Cultures

Fall 2012 Calendar -- DAY [archive]

Fall 2012 Calendar -- EVENING [archive]

Dates and Times to Remember

class slides on-line
(free PowerPoint Viewer 2010)

Thursday, 02 October 2014, 10:41 (10:41 AM) GMT, day 275 of 2014
. . . in History
  . . . in Headlines

      Babel Fish Translation
~ translate this page

Cutting Costs for College Textbooks

general textbook information
OWL logo, Online Writing Lab, Purdue University.

 

 Australian Aborigines

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Desert People

51 min., VC 1094, 1965, B/W

watch video on-line

see related slides:
Nutritional Consequences: Foragers and Agriculturalists

(.pdf) (.pptx)
based on The Cultural Feast: An Introduction to Food and Society, Second Edition.
Bryant, Carol A., Kathleen M. DeWalt, Anita Courtney, and Jeffery Schwartz.
(Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson, 2003).

Aboriginal People in the Gibson Desert
(an excerpt from the film Desert People)

 



Desert People video image.

Desert People video image.
     
Desert People video image.
     
Desert People, boy eating "grub worm"

Desert People, boy eating lizard.
Scenes from the video Desert People

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This film forms part of a "controlled comparison" with the film The Hunters. The Desert People and The Hunters are both:
(a) desert dwellers
(b) people with simple material culture
(c) "band" societies
(d) living in small groups with low population density
(e) with"charismatic" leadership"
(f) with age-sex based social structure, strongly male dominated
(g) with marriages through alliances with members of other bands
(h) and making group decisions by consensus
(i) migratory
But The Hunters hunt, and, for the most part, The Desert People do not.
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"Desert People is a shortened version of the film, People of the Australian Western Desert." This film displays the incidents of the lives of two separate aboriginal families of the Great Western Desert of Australia. One family belongs to the Mandjindara tribe occupying a territory near the Clutterbuck Hills. The other belongs to a northwestern group of the Ngadadjara tribe. Their territory lies around Tekateka and Jalara, west and southwest of the Rawlinson Ranges, in Western Australia. They represent the last families just coming into touch with the Western world."

"This important series is the product of a 1965 film expedition sponsored by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies into the 'Western desert,' a cultural-linguistic region embracing half a million square miles and the ancestral home of the nomadic Aborigines. Purpose of the expedition was to document on film the disappearing Aboriginal culture and community. The result was some 25,000 feet of black-and-white film which has been edited into ten films, totalling some three hours' viewing time. These films record the lives of Djagamara and his family, who were met in the desert; of Djun, one of the film unit guides who exhibits sacred boards and leads a tour of the ancestral site; and of Minma and his family, who were returned from civilization to the desert to make the film."

"The Aborigines of Australia's Western Desert have almost all migrated to federal campgrounds, into the cities, or to large cattle ranches. When this film was made, only a handful held to their traditional way of life, wandering form water source to water source, gathering food an the way. Soon the traditions of the Aborigines will probably disappear altogether, and this film will remain as one of the rare documents of their past. Two family groups are followed as they go through their normal activities. Djafamara and his family are camped by an unusually plentiful water supply, whereas Minma and his family must spend their day travelling from one well to another gathering food as they go."

Filmmaker: Ian Dunlap

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Terms / Concepts

  • "bitty" -- dish

  • wollybutt grass seed

  • spinifex grass

  • band societies

  • desert ecology

  • "ground meats" (are collected, not hunted)

  • wild grass is one of the main foods in this area

  • digging stick (dibble, coa)

  • bandicoot -- insectivorous and herbivorous marsupials

  • Djagamara flakes spear blades from chalcedony

Notes

  • The video starts out describing Djagamara and his family, then about 1/3 way through the film the coverage switches from a family belonging to the Mandjindara "band" occupying a territory near the Clutterbuck Hills to a northwestern group of the Ngadadjara "band." The latter's territory lies around Tekatek and Jalara, west and southwest of the Rawlinson Ranges, in Western Australia. They represent the last families just coming into touch with the Western world.

  • Watch relationships between people

    • What do the women do?

    • What do the men do?

    • What do the children do?

    • What do the teenagers do?

    • the relationship of the people to the earth

    • their material cultural ( huts, tools . . . )

    • their knowledge of the area, the animals, and technology

    • what an archaeologist might discover if they came back in a 1000 years to investigate

    • what wouldn't they find?

      • fire making equipment
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.

  • Stones for making tools are obtained from well-known quarries in the Western Desert, but old tools can often be found in the desert and reused

    • Djagamara refashions a piece of chalcedony

      • hammerstone = quartzite
    .
    • note reuse of stone tools

  • Watch use of fire

    • for cooking

    • for light at night

    • for warmth at night

    • to drive out small animals from the bushes

    • to announce one's presence

      • to the trained eye of the desert dweller the smoke can be seen 30 miles or more away

    • sometimes, just for fun
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.

  • Watch interrelationships with the land

    • What do they eat?

      • seedcakes, lizards, bandicoot, fruit, grub worms, mice

    • How do they obtain food?

    • Who gets it?

    • What do they use?

      • "bush tobacco" rolled in ash
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.

  • Each woman has her own grindstone and her own manner of grinding grass seeds for seedcakes

    • Some women carry their grindstones from well to well, but sometimes the grindstones are left at the campsites

  • Note material culture

    • What would be left if you came back in a thousand years and did an archaeological excavation of their camps?

  • Sometimes a family may have to travel 20 miles or more in moving from well to well

  • It can get to below freezing in the night, even though it is very hot during the day

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  • Review:

"This important series is the product of a 1965 film expedition sponsored by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies into the 'Western Desert,' a cultural-linguistic region embracing half a million square miles and the ancestral home of the nomadic Aborigines. The purpose of the the expedition was to document on film the disappearing Aboriginal culture and community. The result was some 25,000 feet of black-and-white film which has been edited into ten films totaling some three hours viewing time. These films record the lives of Djagamara and his family, who were met in the desert; of Djun, one of the film unit guides who exhibits sacred boards and leads a tour of the ancestral site; and of Minma and his family, who were returned from civilization to the desert to make the film."

"The Aborigines of Australia's Western Desert have almost all migrated to federal campgrounds, into the cities, or to large cattle ranches. When this film was made, only a handful held to their traditional way of life, wandering form water source to water source, gathering food on the way. Soon the traditions of the Aborigines will probably disappear altogether, and this film will remain as one of the rare documents of their past. Two family groups are followed as they go through their normal activities Djagamara and his family are camped by an unusually plentiful water supply, whereas Minma and his family must spend their day traveling form one well to another, gathering food as they go."
-- Tindale, N. Review, American Anthropologist, Vol. 70, No. 2, April, 437-438

.Cultures

  • Australian "aborigines"

Sites

  • Great Western Australian Desert
  • Gibson Desert
  • Badjar in the Clutterbuck Hills
  • Digadiga (Tika Tika)

Individuals

  • Djagamara
  • Minma Djuburula
  • Djun

Publications / Bibliography

  • Web: Aboriginal Studies WWW Virtual Library -- Dr. T. Matthew Ciolek.
  • Elkin, A. D. 1964. The Australian Aborigines. New York: Doubleday.
  • Gould, R. A. 1968. "Living Archeology: The Ngatatjara of Western Australia,'" Southwestern Journal of Anthropology.
  • Gould, R. A. 1967. "Notes on Hunting, Butchering, and Sharing of Game Among the Ngatatjara and Their Neighbors in the West Australian Desert," Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers, No.36, Spring.
  • Gould, Richard A. 1969. Yiwara: Foragers of the Australian Desert. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Read this book Online

  • Sharp, R. L. 1952. "Steel Axes for Stone-Age Australians." Human Organization 11:17-22.
  • Stitson, Roger. Contact: A STUDY GUIDE.
  • Strehlow, T. G. H. 1947. Aranda Traditions. Melbourne: Melbourne University.
  • Tindale, N. 1968. Review, American Anthropologist, Vol. 70, No. 2, April 437-438.

Video Review Sheet: Desert People -- University of South Dakota

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