Luritja People of Kings Canyon

It is interesting when I am searching for information about the indigneous people and the diversity between tribes, I find it difficult to find out more about their culture. I am curious as to why? I am aware there is a men’s dreaming in the King’s Canyon, but I don’t know what that was about. A mysterious people.

Luritja is a name used to refer to several dialects of the Indigenous Australian Western Desert Language, and thereby also to the people who speak these varieties, and their traditional lands.

The name luritja is thought to derive from the Arrernte word lurinya, ‘foreigner’. It appears to have originally been applied by Arrernte speakers to people of the Western Desert Language group who had relocated onto Arrernte lands in the process of moving (or being moved) from remote desert areas to the region closer to Alice Springs. Over time younger generations have taken on the term as their ethnonym, possibly unaware of its origin.

The Luritja lands include areas to the west and south of Alice Springs, extending around the edge of Arrernte country. The area surrounding Papunya, including Mount Liebig is often referred to as Papunya Luritja, both in land and language, while areas to the south-east around Finke and Maryvale are often referred to as Titjikala Luritja (Maryvale is the name of the cattle station on Titjikala land). The area around Ulpanyali and Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon) is also referred to as Luritja country and the dialect of Luritja spoken there is referred to as Southern Luritja (It’s identical to Titjikala Luritja). The variety of Luritja spoken at Kintore is often referred to as Pintupi/Luritja.

Papunya Luritja is the variety of Luritja spoken around the community of Papunya, and also west through Mount Liebig to Kintore. Like Luritja generally, Papunya Luritja is a dialect of the Western Desert Language and is closely related to the Pintupi language of the area around Kintore and further west. Papunya Luritja has probably also been influenced by western varieties of Arrernte as well as Warlpiri.

This variety is also a dialect of the Western Desert Language. While it is quite similar to Papunya Luritja, it shows notable differences probably having been derived mostly from Pitjantjatjara as well as being influenced by Antakarinya and the more southern varieties of Arrernte.

The total population of Luritja people (including Papunya Luritja) is probably in the thousands making them the third largest of the Central Australian Aboriginal populations, behind Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara.

Mohandas Gandhi

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”