Culture and traditional ceremonial belief is very important to the Anindilyakwa people.
Their ‘Dreaming’ stories and ‘songlines’ explain how the land, rivers, animals and people of the archipelago were first created, the spiritual connections between all those things, and the important ceremonial laws of marriage and kinship.
‘These creation stories account for current relationships between people, animals and land’, said Hugh Bland, an anthropologist who works with the Anindilyakwa people to protect culturally important sites and record cultural information.
The stories go back to the creation period—the Dreamtime or ‘Tjukurpa’ as Indigenous people call it—when the land was featureless and uninhabited, and the spirits in the sky or on land created the landscape.
‘They’re important oral histories that are passed down to young people to explain the Anindilyakwa culture, where their country is and where their sprit goes after they’re gone’, said Hugh.
‘This culture is very focused on reincarnation, and when someone passes away, senior people sing these songs to ensure they ‘sing’ the person’s spirit back to where it belongs.’
The Anindilyakwa live by a complex kinship system where everyone is related to each other and there are very strict rules about marriage, family relationships and day-to-day interactions.
Anindilyakwa culture is celebrated on Groote Eylandt every year at the ‘One people, one voice’ festival, with traditional dancing, singing, busk tucker, basket weaving, jewellery making and sporting activities.
Learning on Country
An important program on Groote Eylandt helps make sure these important cultural traditions, knowledge and skills are passed onto younger generations of Anindilyakwa.
‘Learning on Country’ is a partnership between schools on the island and Indigenous rangers. The program brings education out of the classroom and onto the land and sea, where both boys and girls are taught the ‘old ways’, like spear making, hunting, collecting yams and ‘sugarbags’ (the honey of native bees), and basket making.
The lodge offers a range of authentic cultural experiences for our guests:
Groote Eylandt – Anindilyakwa One People One Voice 2016 Festival Highlights
The highest participation in cultural dancing since the OPOV festival started in 2012.
- In excess of 1300 people on the Friday and Saturday of the festival.
- Over 200 visitors attended this year’s festival. The most on record.
- The ASAC media team program created festival TV. This included promotional videos leading into the festival and recordings of the festival.
- Jeremy Donovan world acclaimed indigenous musician and key note speaker sessions at Angurugu School and during the festival week.
- The Lantern parade was again a highlight and involved around 250 students from across Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island.
- Groote Eylandt Dream Team won the football competition – first time this has happened.
- Angurugu Women’s team won the family basketball competition.
- Bush Tucker collection was well supported by the ALC Rangers leading into the festival and provided enough fish and mud mussels for the entire community during lunch on Saturday.
- Six whole pigs spit roasted and hangi style prepared by Alyangula Church Group were again well received in 2016.