An Intergenerational Warlpiri Women’s program facilitating ceremonial song and dance experiences for younger women from Yuendumu, Nyirrpi and Willowra.
Southern Ngalia (SN) is a three way intergenerational collaboration between Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC – Mt Theo Program), senior Warlpiri women and Incite Arts. Based on trust relationships and responsiveness to direction from the senior women, the project builds a platform to collectively focus on: achieving stronger links with traditional song and dance; creating new generations fluent in the ceremonial and cultural knowledge of their parents/grandparents; strengthening of Warlpiri culture; showcasing within and beyond the region.
Through the delivery of twice yearly dance camps, Senior Warlpiri Women from Yuendumu, Nyirrpi and Willowra facilitate traditional dance and ceremonial experiences for younger women. The camps involve travelling to significant cultural sites and orientating the young women within the particular knowledge and responsibilities inherent to the ceremonies of that country. The young women learn the clearing of the area for the dance and ceremony, making dance sticks, collecting ochres, dressing with ornaments, feather (Jinjirla) and string. The women sing songs connected to the country where the camp is held, while they paint each other and the younger women as preparation for the evening performance.
Other significant outcomes of the project include public performance opportunities & the documentation of stories, songs and dances.
SN encourages and supports Warlpiri women to undertake leadership roles, engages a comprehensive and ongoing consultation process and works to meet needs directly expressed by Warlpiri women. Together these generations of women explore traditional culture and the value of ensuring its survival.
On the importance of Southern Ngalia
“I think it’s pretty important that we have the funding to keep on supporting these programs. We are now living in the new generation, the Kardiya world, white man world now and sometimes we think everything will be forgotten because there are new technologies coming. The culture is very important in our lives because that’s where out spirit is and it needs not to be forgotten. We need these programs for our young generations to look back to, to what they have learnt in the past. See what they’ve been doing, whether they have become mothers themselves. To be able to look back at the past and to say I’ve been there and keep on keeping our children strong. Strong culture, strong language! It’d be very sad if there were no programs to do those kind of things. Working together, bringing this all together. And that is a really big thing, a really big thing, you know.”
– Lottie Napangardi Williams Robertson, SN Cultural Mentor & WYDAC Chairperson