The Ngaanyatjarra Lands

The Ngaanyatjarra Lands are in the far east of Western Australia, adjoining the Northern Territory and South Australia borders.  This area spans nearly 160,000 sq/kms with a population of over 2,000 people.  There are 11 communities and outstation settlements in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands.

The first permanent settlement in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands was the Warburton Mission, established in 1934.  In the years since then mining, weapons testing, the homelands movement (where new communities and outstations were built on country specific to different families and groups) and enormous political shifts have changed the Ngaanyatjarra Lands.

Ngaanyatjarra is the name of both the local language and the collective identity of Aboriginal people from this area.  The Ngaanyatjarra language is related to other desert languages such as Pitjantjatjara, Pintubi and Martu.

The communities in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands range in size from around 40 people to over 400.  Most communities have a school, store, clinic and a range of municipal and cultural services.

The landscape of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands is extremely diverse; the western desert regions’ physical richness is reflected in the astonishing variety of artistic expression.  The Ngaanyatjarra Lands are at the junction of the Great Victoria and Gibson deserts and bisected by dramatic ranges in the east and south and the long dunes of the sandy country to the west.  Among this overwhelming landscape are the rockholes, soakwaters (underground water), creeks, salt lakes and claypans that feature in many of the artworks as sites of significance.

 

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