Kuul, A Short Film by Curtis Taylor





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Uploaded on Jun 26, 2011

The first buildings in each community were the schools. Martu wanted their children to learn English but also their own language. The schools in the western desert are remote independent schools; not state, not public. This gave the community more input on what their children should be taught. They created the schools to be bilingual schools teaching English and Martu Wangka together.

Kuul is one of three videos about Martu History, created by Curtis Taylor for the Yiwarra Kuju (Canning Stock Route) exhibition housed at the National Museum of Australia in 2010. The exhibition bought to the fore the stories of contact, conflict and survival, exodus and return to traditional country and was created by Aboriginal artists and communities in collaboration with FORM. The exhibition is will be opening in Perth in October of 2011.

These three short videos give an insight into Martu history and culture. The Martu traditionally live in the Pilbara in Western Desert, and are a collective of different dialect speakers that identify as a single group for social, political and cultural reasons.

With a history spanning more than 25,000 years, the Martu were one of the last indigenous populations to come into contact with Europeans until 1905 when the Canning Stock Route wells were being established. From this time onwards Martu were forcibly removed from their land onto missions or settlements like Jigalong. Some Martu did not make contact until the 1960s, most notably the small group of women and children who were tracked and "cleared out" in 1964 to make way for the Blue Streak missile tests fired from Woomera in SA.

The end of the 1970's saw the missionaries leave Jigalong mission, and the Martu began resettling in their desert lands, establishing the self-autonomous communities of Jigalong, Punmu, Parnngurr, and Kunawarritji. It was not until 2002 that they were granted native title over their land. Today Martu continue to live in their desert communities as well as the surrounding regional towns of Marble Bar, Nullagine, Newman, and Port Hedland.

Although not unchanged, cultural practice remains strong with annual ceremonies involving participation from surrounding Indigenous groups from Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia. Martu continue to care for their country through recently established programs of Land Management involving Martu Rangers in each community and a collaboration with government and non-government organisations addressing a range of ecological and cultural issues including pest species management and cultural site preservation.

Warning: viewers should be aware that these videos includes names and images of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal people."

Curtis Taylor, 21yrs, hails from Parnngurr Community, located 400 kms east of Newman. Curtis is an actor and emerging film writer/director, and a young Martu leader. He is currently an undergrad at Murdoch University, completing a Bachelor of Culture, Communications and Media. After finishing school in 2008, Curtis worked as a Community Coordinator and Youth Development Officer at Martu Media (a division of Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa), where he also spent 18 months working on the Yiwarra Kuju Project as a filmmaker and youth Ambassador. Curtis was the recipient of 2011 Western Australian Youth Art Award and Westfarmers Youth Scholarship.

Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route exhibition is a joint initiative between The National Museum Canberra of Australia and FORM.

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