Cultural Education

Education can take number of forms:

Formal knowledge is passed on under an unbroken tradition “The Law” (customary law). Initiation was halted in the Macumba and Oodnadatta region in the 1960s under pressure from government. Children had to go to school or might be removed from cattle stations.  Unbroken Yankunytjatjara and Aranda traditions remain in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara -Yankunytjatjara Lands to the North West and beyond. Important sites on the Macumba go all the way to Lake Eyre.

Semi-formal knowledge is when people keep traditional relationships as much as possible. They pass on appropriate knowledge to the correct relatives, outside or alongside any formal knowledge standing.

Informal knowledge transfer takes place between relatives and trusted others, assuming that the formal knowledge is no longer possible or unlikely to take effect.

Bushcraft is what you learn through your senses and listening to people who have lived long on country.  When whitefellas came they learned bushcraft from us. Sidney Kidman and R.M. Williams (bush entrepreneurs) had Aboriginal mentors early in their careers, and like many others did very well on the strength of what they learned. 

Historical and anthropological knowledge has been collected by whitefellas since they first came here, and today we also use this information, and some of us gain qualifications in this way. The recordings of language, places, songs and performance can be used in recreating and restoring meaning and knowledge of places.

Creative Arts make us aware and build live culture. Today new media can help making fresh meaning from the other forms of knowledge.

Looking around Australia, creative arts appear strongest where formal knowledge is also present. Where pastoral stations came in, both formal knowledge and creative arts appear to be a bit slower in coming along. Uncertainty over standing under The Law seems to have made places  and performance more secret than used to be the case.  Since the 1960s, when ceremony was outlawed in our region, it has been difficult to now to know what arts could be possible. In future it could be very different.


This country is rich in places of significance. Not only the oldest places that go with the songs, but also from early station life when as shepherds we made stone windbreaks, and brush sheepyards. There are plants that only grow in the Macumba, and these have names in LS Aranda and Wangkangurru language.

Today the protection of stone arrangements and other heritage are the responsibility of the State Premier. We hope he is doing a good job, but without more people on country it must be difficult to look after places.