Y’know that whole rhetoric about travelling in Western Australia, where you have to stock up on fuel and food to survive the long arid deserted roads. A trip reserved for hardcore 4WD enthusiasts with jeeps converted to tanks, with armour made of jerry cans and rugby post sized antennas bolted to every corner of the hood. Where the strict 21st century guideline to breaking down is ‘STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE IN THE SHADE AND WAIT FOR HELP’.
How surprised would you be to find out that a group of nine desert ninjas not only survived, but prospered in this environment for multiple generations, without a vehicle, electricity, or running water, and were still in better physical condition then Beef Jerky Johnny in the aforementioned 4WD travelling through the same central Australian desert.
“yeh mate i’d be pretty fuckin shocked”
Well this is the exact narrative of The Pintupi Nine; A tribe of nine Aboriginal men, women and children who lived in perfect synergy with their land until by chance alone, discovering modern society as late as 1984. In short, the Pintupi tribe occupied a region now known as Lake Mackay, a vast glistening salt lake spanning 3,500 sq km (1,350 sq miles) between the Gibson and Great Sandy deserts of Western Australia. Here they lived as their ancestors of 60,000 years did; hunting and gathering in the region, establishing temporary and unobtrusive camps between waterholes which were as much as 40km apart. They would create moigeba (similar to damper) from black and brown seeds collected from the region, grinding them on stones showing thick recesses from the constant and cathartic friction of grinding stone. They would hunt Goanna, not simply for the meat alone, using the bone and even the blood as a natural oil barrier to the hot Alice Spring sun.
Occasionally the modern world would reveal itself in different forms, however to them, these encounters held no clue as to the ENTIRELY different culture only residing a few hundred km’s away. As a woman of the original nine, Yukultji, would recall, “The plane would fly over and we would hide in the tree. We would see the wings of the plane and we would get frightened. We thought it was the devil and so we kept hiding under the tree. When the plane had passed we would climb down from the tree.”
The Pintupi were some of the toughest and most skilled survivors on the planet, and by passing down their survival skills from one generation to the next, they managed to occupy this part of the world, uninterrupted, for tens of thousands of years.
In the interest of a word limit, you can read the rest of the fascinating story at the BBC link here > http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30500591
However the thing I found interesting was the manner in which the story was covered by two separate news agencies.
Herald Sun is Rupert Murdoch owned centre-right media asset, and had an entirely different spin on delivering the events opposed to the much more impartial (and ironically offshore) BBC corporation.
In their article (heraldsun) they frame the tribe as being impoverished, and burdened by “not knowing their age”. The title itself “lost tribe happy in modern world” implies that their journey to finding the modern was almost a pilgrimage to the shining light of modernity. They highlight weird exchanges such as ‘Don’t worry. He won’t hurt you — he’s just a white bloke’, almost to validate by extension that whole genocide thing we enacted on Aboriginal people 200 years ago. But wait, here’s the grossly fermented cherry on top
“What made the nomads give up their life in the desert?
“They knew they had no future,” Mr McMahon said.
Official response to Mr McMahon
It’s safe to assume then, that multiple generations and lineages of “well proportioned, strong, fit, healthy” people spanning back 60,000 years was indeed reaching a critical acute point of fatality in the next 10 years, because they couldn’t access the wonderful amenities of the modern world, like the ability to pay $34 daily for on street parking in an urban area.
The entire article is fucked. It’s an extension of the complete miseducation and understanding we have in current society Australia of what Aboriginal people once stood for and embodied in their incredibly intricate culture. Instead of a triumphant story detailing the unparalleled synergy the Aboriginal people had in one of THE most INHABITABLE environments on the globe, we get the gloriously pointless insights of Lutheran pastor Jim Inkamala, as he exclaims “He thought he would die from white fella diseases,”.
Hey Jim, I reckon there’s a pretty fucking good reason why they should be scared.
“Right over there is where I discovered diabetes and property tax”