Thursday, 23 April 2020

Desert People - M J Meggitt

I was looking at the book Desert People by M J Meggitt published in 1962 and was amazed by the detailed personal information recorded and published about events that happened or were said to have happened during the field work on which the publication was based. The people involved in these events are easily recognised in census results in the Northern Territory, especially for Hooker Creek. Some would still be alive today. I wonder if they realised how the information they provided would be used. An extract is here .

Further examples follow :-

"While they were at Yuendumu, Wally djabaldjari and his
sister’s husband, Jack djagamara, were allies in a series of disputes
that involved a homicide. Knowing that reprisals were
likely, they offered Jack’s daughter, Julie, then about 10 years
old, to a djabanangga man in return for a promise of aid
in future fights. This man, however, did not honour his agreement
in the next fight that occurred, so Jack declared the
betrothal to be at an end. Other men criticized Jack’s action.
They stated that betrothal should be an unconditional arrangement
and should lead automatically to marriage.
When Jack later moved to Hooker Creek, he took Julie with
him. As he still feared repercussions from the earlier disputes,
he offered the girl on the same terms to Peter djabanangga
of Wave Hill. Peter was already married and refused to be
entangled in Jack’s quarrels. He suggested that Julie be offered
to his “young brother”, Robber djabanangga, who accepted
the betrothal.
About a year afterwards, Robber arrived from Wave Hill
and asked for Julie in marriage, guaranteeing to let her visit
her mother at Hooker Creek frequently. Although Jack had
had no cause to call on Robber for fighting aid, he handed the
girl over without argument to avoid public disapproval of a
second default. At the same time, he offered another young
daughter to Peter in return for help in disputes, but Peter
again declined."

Julie born 22. 7.1954 Phillip Creek, parents Wauchope Jack Djugamurra and Lillian Nabanardi

1963 Census Warrabri
Jack Wauchope Jagamara, born c1926
Lillian Wauchope Nabangardi, born c 1936
Julie Wauchope Nungala, born 22. 7.1954
Sylvia Wauchope Nungala, born 26.12.1958
Gary Denis Wauchope Jungala, born 20. 9.1961

"Margie nabangari, the younger wife of Billy djarnbidjimba,
was the daughter of Peter djabanangga of Wave Hill. During
a visit to Hooker Creek Peter told me he was worried about
Margie’s increasing blindness (actually the result of trachoma).
He was sure that an enemy was “singing” her. Peter several
times berated Billy for not seeking out the sorcerer, and he said
he would leave a son at Hooker Creek to ensure that Billy
looked after Margie better. He also criticized Billy’s failure to
shield her from the attentions of her lover, Norman djambidjimba.
On an earlier visit to Hooker Creek, Peter had threatened
to spear Norman — a warning that Billy should have issued.
When Norman heard that Peter was coming again to Hooker
Creek, he suddenly discovered urgent matters to discuss with
relatives at Yuendumu, 200 miles away."


Hooker Creek Census 1963
Blind Maggie Nabangadi, mother (Crossed out Margaret (Margie))
Billy Army Jambijimba, father
Ruthie Nangala, born 28. 8.1961

Hooker Creek Census c1968
Billy Ami Jambidjimba, born c1904, Brother Angus, sister June
Nancy Nabaldjari, wife 1, born c1919 Hooker Creek or Darwin
Margie (Maggie) Nabungadi, wife 2, born c1934, blind
Ruth Armstrong Nangala born 28. 8.1961

Hooker Creek Census 1968
Norman Jambidjimba, husband, born c1934
Maisie Jabangadi, wife, born c1933 (First husband Mick Jagamara, DOB also 1938)
(They care for Patsy Nangala, daughter of Paddy Jambidjimba,  and Biddy Nambidjimba
born 6. 7.1957.)

"Although Bulbul djabaldjari had three wives, he devoted
much time and energy to the pursuit of other women. On this
occasion, he was involved in a liaison with the promiscuous
Marcie nambidjimba, his “m.b.d.”. As men recalled his recent
affair with Molly nagamara, they passed acid comments on his
current behaviour. However, nothing was said to Marcie’s
husband, Ginger, who was clearly aware of the situation. One
afternoon, Bulbul’s youngest wife, Margaret nagamara, surprised
Bulbul and Marcie in flagrante delicto in Bulbul’s own
shelter. She upbraided him for “shaming” her in this way
and then struck Marcie several times. Bulbul at once speared
her in the thigh and abused her roundly. The noise attracted
Ginger, who began to beat Marcie until Abe djangala, Marcie’s
“father”, sent him spinning from a powerful blow with a club.
This quite incapacitated Ginger, who could only look on
while Abe thrashed Marcie.
Meanwhile, Margaret’s own father, William djuburula (aged
about 60), attacked Bulbul with a boomerang. He landed
some telling blows but was no match for the younger man.
Seeing William receive the worst of the fight, his “younger
brothers” and countrymen, Paddy and Charlie djuburula, came
to his aid Bulbul was now in desperate straits so Clem
djungarai, his own son, and Windy and Larry djungarai, his
"sons" tackled the two younger djuburula with clubs and
boomerangs. Windy split open Paddy's scalp but had his
fingers broken in return. Bulbul’s own brothers, who had disapproved
of his behaviour, would not help him. Eventually
a group of Ginger’s countrymen managed to break up the fight,
which now no longer concerned them, and separated the
combatants long enough for tempers to cool.
In the discussions that followed, I was repeatedly told, even
by Bulbul’s own brothers, that he had behaved ahominanbly
by copulating with Marcie in his own camp, he had insulted
all his wives and their kinsmen. Nevertheless, the men added
Margaret should have known better than to berate Bulbul
in front of Marcie. He was bound to retaliate in order to
maintain his prestige. She should have gone at once to her
father with her complaint and let him gather relatives to
punish Bulbul."


Hooker Creek Census c1968
Bulbul Djandu-Djugurba Jabaldjari, husband, born c1904
Margaret Nagamara, wife 1, born c1924
Peter Penn (Pan) Jungarai, child wife 1, born c1945 Wife is Barbara
Hector Cavin Jungarai, child wife 1, born 19. 2.1954
Liddy Nagamaea, wife 2, born c1910
Freddy Jungarai, child wife 2, born c1933, Wife 1 Mary, Wife 2 Minnie, wife 3 Molly
Clem Jungarai, child wife 2, born c1934, Wife is Liddy
Lindsay Jungarai, child wife 2, born c1940, Wife is Aileen
Doreen Nungarai, child wife 2, born c1947 Husband is Jerry
Modagarbun (Mrs Chapman) Nagamara, wife 3, born c1900
Benny Jungarai, child wife 3, born c1937, Wife is Kitty

Census 1964 Hooker Creek
Clem, Jungarai, Wailbri, husband, born c1934
Liddy, Nagamara, Wailbri, wife 1, born c1929
Edward, Jungarai, Wailbri, child, born c1950 (Father is Alec Jabaljari. Mother is Liddy.)
Laura, Nungarai, Wailbri, child, born 18. 2.1964
Biddy (Betty), Nungarai, Wailbri, child, born 4.12.1958
Elizabeth, Nungarai, Wailbrichild, born c1947 (Married to Peter Jangala.)
Mona, Nangala, Wailbri, wife 2, born c1929 (Presently divorced)
Mary, Nabaljari, Wailbri, child, born 26. 3.1956
Robin, Nabaljari, Wailbri, child, born 28. 8.1959 Twin
Tom, Jabaljari, Wailbri, child, born 28. 8.1959 Twin
Richard, Jabaljari, Wailbri, child, born c1952

Census c1968 Hooker Creek
Clem, Jungarai, husband, born c1934
Liddy, Nagamara, wife, born c1929
Laura, Nungarai, child, born 18. 2.1964
Irma, Nungarai, child, born 31. 8.1965
Sharon, Nungarai, child, born 30. 4.1968
(They also care for Clem's children by his first wife Mona (now
 married to Windy and cares for King. Children are Mary Anne Paton
 born 26. 3.1965; Charles deceased; Tommy Paton born 28. 8.1959;
 Robyn Paton born 28. 8.1959. Liddy, first husband Alec, cares
 for Mary Anne, Tommy, Robyn and own children Betty (father Alec),
 Laura (father Clem), Irma (father Clem).

Census c1968 Hooker Creek
Windy, Jungarai, husband, born c1918
Topsy, Nangala,m wife 1, born c1937
Mona, Nangala, wife 2, born c1929 (First husband Clem)
Ivan, Jabaldjari, child, born 8. 9.1961 (Mother Topsy)
Gary, Jabaldjari, child, born 23. 8.1963 (Mother Topsy)
King, Jabaldjari, child, born 14.12.1961 (Mother Mona)
(Mona's children by her first husband Clem are Mary Anne,
 Tommy and Robyn. They are looked after by Clem and his wife.
 Crossed out is 'They also care for Richard another of her
 children'. He now appears with the single men.
 Windy's first wife Joan now with Ned Jungala.)

Hooker Creek Census c1968
Ginger, Jabangadi, husband, born c1894, Deceased 12. 6.1967
Marcia, Nambidjimba, wife, born c1934 SW16 On Single Women's list
Paul Marks, Jabananga, child, born 6. 5.1960
Gordon, Jabananga, child, born 4. 1.1964, deceased
Joanne, Nabananga, child, born 9. 8.1965
Kevin, Jabananga, child, born 12. 8.1966, deceased 17. 3.1967
(Children by Widdy, wife 1, now deceased, are Dolly Baker (born 1915),
 Charlie (born 1932) and Albert. Maggie Dabarantyi, wife 3 (separated/deceased ?)

Photographs available in the Mervyn J Meggitt Collection at AIATSIS
Persons photographed include: Bulbul; Clem Djungarai; Jimmy Djambidjimba; Peter Djabanangga; Jack Djagamara; Wally Djabaldjari; Silent Djambidjimba; Jack Djagaldjari; Larry Djungarai; Ginger Djabangari; Paddy Djabaldjari; Louis Djuburula; Alex II Djabaldjari; Bulbul Djabaldjari; Alex I Djabaldjari; Mick Djabangari; Larry Djungarai; Clarry Djabaldjari; Billy Djambidjimba; Louis Djuburula; Jack Djabaldjari; Danny Djungarai; Jack Djagamara; Maggie Nambidjimba; William Djuburula; Abe Djangala; Paddy Djambidjimba; Wagulgari Djungarai; Windy Djungarai; Donny Djabangari; Comedy Djabanangga; Wadana; Ngagamara (Djagamara); Ronnie Rawson; Bobby Paton

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