Made in 1965, these films concentrate on the subsistence technology of Aborigines of the Mandjindjara and the Ngadadjara Tribes of the Australian Western Desert. They were shot in black and white, with no synchronous sound, but with a careful commentary giving the basic information necessary to follow the techniques being filmed. The family mainly involved had been living for a short period on a mission station, but returned to the, desert at the request of the film crew to make these films.
The other three parts of this series make up Desert People (see separate entry).
SACRED BOARDS AND AN ANCESTRAL SITE (Part 3 of the series)
RA45 B/W 7 1/2 mins.
In this film one of the film crew's guides shows his sacred carved boards hidden at a totemic site. The boards are believed to be a direct link with the Dreamtime when the ancestors carried similar boards. The commentary explains the use of boards in ceremonial activity and discusses their decorations.
The totemic site is the location of a legend: in the Dreamtime the ancestors circumcised a boy here. As the guide points to the marks in the rocks which were left by the ancestors, the commentary recounts the legend.
OLD CAMP SITES AT TIKA TIKA (Part 5 of the series)
RA46 B/W 11 1/2 mins.
In this section we are shown the broken artifacts and remains of old shelters at Tika Tika where the family helping in the making of this film had stopped to camp. We see one of the wives mending a cracked wooden dish with resin, and preparing a headache lotion from quandong seeds. These are roasted, ground and rubbed on the head.
SPEAR MAKING - BOYS' SPEAR FIGHT (Part 6 of the series)
RA47 B/W 9 1/2 mins.
Minma, the head of one of the Aboriginal families featured in these films, makes a spear from an acacia tree. The shaft is straightened and the point made with a steel axe (steel axes arrived in the desert before actual contact was made with Whites). Spears were traditionally used for hunting and fighting. The film also shows two of Minmals sons playing with toy spears.
SPEAR-THROWER MAKING, INCLUDING STONE FLAKING AND GUM PREPARATION (part 7 of the series)
RA48 B/W 33 1/2 mins.
Spear-throwers are used as a lever so that spears can be projected with greater force. In this film we are shown the step-by-step preparation of a spear-thrower. First a length of wood from the hard acacia tree is cut down and fashioned with a short iron-bar into the correct shape. Resin is prepared from spinifex grass which is used to stick the stone-blade onto the handle of the spear-thrower. Finally a wooden peg is carved and attached with kangaroo tendon to receive the end of the spear.
FIRE-MAKING (Part 8 of the series)
RA49 B/W 7 mins.
This film shows the laborious process a young boy goes through in order to make fire by rubbing the edge of his spear-thrower across a split stick. The friction ignites kangaroo dung and dry kindling placed in the crack. Normally the Aborigines carried fire?sticks or kept fires going where possible.
SPINNING HAIR STRING, GETTING WATER FROM WELL, BINDING GIRLS HAIR (Part 9 of the series)
RA50 B/W 12 1/2 mins.
Here we see some of the women's activities in camp whilst Minma is out hunting His two wives spin human hair on an acacia wood spindle. The hair is spun to make personal ornaments such as necklaces, and is also used to make belts on which lizards captured on the hunt can be strung.
The children make patterns in the sand; one of them fetches water from a nearby well and then returns to have her hair bound with the hair-string band.
COOKING KANGAROO (part 10 of the series)
RA51 B/W 16 1/2 mins.
Minma has killed a large kangaroo, an animal that is becoming increasingly rare in the central desert. After gutting it, Minma carries it back to camp and digs a cooking trench. The kangaroo is cooked quickly in hot embers, then informally divided and distributed; Minma's wives are involved with this process only at the time of distribution.
R.A. Gould, 1968. 'Living Archaeology: the Ngatatjara of Western Australia'.
Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 24, pp.101-122.
1969. Yiwara: Foragers of the Australian Desert. Scribner, New York.
N.B. Tindale, 1968. Review of this series of films. American Anthropologist, Vol, 709 pp.437-438.
R. Tonkinson, 1974. The Jigalong Mob: Aboriginal Victors of the Desert Crusade.
Cummings, Menlo Park, California.
1978. The Mardudjara Aborigines?: Society and Spirit in a Desert Culture. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.