Sociological Research Online

Kapululangu Aboriginal Women's Association

Dear Friends,

Australian Aboriginal women need your help to raise the funds to buy a vehicle. If you can help - by making a donation of any size and/or by letting us know about potential sources of funding - please take a look at their webpage at <> or read on for more information:


Kapululangu Aboriginal Women's Association has established a women's cultural centre in Wirrimanu (Balgo) Aboriginal Community, on the edge of Australia's isolated Western Desert in the East Kimberley Region.

Wirrimanu, home to 350 Aboriginal people, is one of Australia's most isolated communities. Because Kartiya (whites) didn't access this country until the late 1950 - only 40 years ago - and the people maintain one of Australia's strongest traditional cultures with very strong connections with their lands and ancestral teachings.

The Wirrimanu people are recognised internationally as maintaining strong cultural practices and continue to enjoy a strong semi-traditional lifestyle. The senior Law women of Kapululangu Aboriginal Women's Association are custodians of traditional women's lore that needs to be sustained, protected and maintained.

There is a lot of energy in Wirrimanu these days around taking care of women's culture. The women have organised themselves as an incorporated cultural organisation. They have recently begun to renovate an old shed (built in 1989) and are using it now as a cultural centre, tjilimi ("single" women's house), and a safehouse for women escaping or avoiding domestic violence. They have built a keeping shed for their ceremonial equipment, a kitchen to support those living at the centre, and are in the process of establishing an office.

Lack of adequate funding and resources however is undermining that strength. Wirrimanu women are inviting you to join with them in a partnership to take care of their sacred yawulyu - a treasure that is important not only to them but to all global citizens that respect the indigenous cultures.

They are in most urgent need of a vehicle as a means to enable them to access their ancestral country for ceremonial purposes, to practice their cultural and religious beliefs, to keep the Tjukurrpa (or Dreaming) alive; to pass their wisdom onto the younger generations, and to gather foods to improve their health.

A vehicle would allow the women to:

They need to have a vehicle that is capable of carrying them safely into some of Australia's most isolated and difficult desert regions.

This car will cost $A30,000 to buy and a further $A10,000 to maintain and run for one year. This is a total of $40,000 (Australian) which is equivalent to $26,000 (US).

Raising funds for buying the vehicle is the biggest problem facing the women despite it being their most urgent need.

Senior Law woman Tjama Napanangka writes to her friends around the world:

Dear Friends,

We want you to help us buy a motor car so that we can go country to show our country and tell stories and look and dance and to get bush tucker and hunting and keep Tjukurrpa (Dreaming) alive. And to take kids camping out in the bush and show them tracking and hunting animals and show them bush tucker too. Teach them. Telling stories from Tjukurrpa so that kids can hold culture. We gotta pass it on to them so that they got it forever.

We've already made Kapululangu Aboriginal Women's Association. We built a little Keeping Shed, and we're making an office. We have a kitchen too now - stove, fridge and washing machine. We did this with some money from ATSIC but there's no more money now.

A lot of women are living at the women's culture centre to look after things. We're doing painting and baskets and getting ready for dancing ceremony - making presents to share at big women's Law meeting. We teach young girls in Kapululangu's Tjilimi and teach young kids (boys too) in school - painting and telling stories from Tjukurrpa.

But we really need a motor car so that we can do our work properly. We gotta travel around this country - go a long way - doing ceremony and teaching kids.

Yati Minyiri, thank you.

Tjama Freda Napanangka Chairwoman, Kapululangu Aboriginal Women's Association

If you feel able to take up Tjama's invitation to work with the women on this very important project please contact us.

You can help in many ways: making a donation of however much you can afford (no amount too small); by asking your friends to make a donation; by arranging for an organisation to make a donation, or by telling us about potential funding sources.

You can deposit funds for Kapululangu into the following bank account:

Name of Account: "Pacific Connections"
Name of Bank: Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Address of Bank: Booth St, Annandale, New South Wales 2038, Australia
Account Number: 062 102 1005 2883

Or send a cheque to:

c/- Pacific Connections, PO Box 172, Annandale, NSW 2038, Australia
ph: +61-2-96603670 Email:

Please make cheques out to "Pacific Connections" but earmark for "Kapululangu". Please inform us if you deposit funds directly.

If you know of any potential sources please let us know.

This email has been kept intentionally short. Please ask us for more information if you need it.

Please copy this request and distribute as widely as possible.

Thank you,

Zohl de Ishtar
Coordinator, Kapululangu Aboriginal Women's Association
(July 1999)