“I want my book to be in schools and read by politicians and young people everywhere, so that they can learn about Tjukurpa Law, and realise how crucially important Tjukurpa is to Anangu Aboriginal people. Our Tjukurpa Law is all-encompassing. It was always intended to be eternal, but we know it is at risk. This is why I am documenting it now. I want to raise people’s counciousness. I want us to be acknowledged by the wider society and the government. I am hoping to start a movement of new awareness.”
(Kunmanara Mumu Mike Williams, 2018)
Kulinmaya! Keep Listening Everybody! is the story of Mr Williams’ life, beliefs and artistic journey, as he told it, in Pitjantjatjara and English. It was one of the biggest projects we have ever done here at Mimili Maku Arts, and we would like to thank all supporters who have assisted us in making this book happen, in particular the Australian Government's Indigenous Languages and Arts (ILA) program and the Gordon Darling Foundation.
Mr Williams (1952-2019) was one of our founders and directors here at Mimili Maku Arts. He was an exhibiting artist for over ten years, and finalist in a number of art prizes since 2016. He is best known for his iconic paintings incorporating scrawling writing on Australia Post mailbags, suspended from traditional kulata (spears).
Long before becoming an artist, Mr Williams was widely known across the APY Lands as a skilled orator, thinker and cultural leader. Creating Kulinmaya! Keep listening, everybody! was his long-held dream as it would be a vessel to disseminate his message far and wide. The book has become a thorough insight into the life of a cultural leader on the APY Lands. It combines contemporary and historical photographs with a range of Mr Williams’ artworks, and allows readers to engage more deeply with the meanings and stories behind his artwork, in particular as it relates to the long struggle for land rights on the APY Lands.
Recorded in Pitjantjatjara, the project was as much about recording his life story, as it was about maintenance of language. For Mr Williams it was paramount that young children on the APY Lands should continue to learn Pitjantjatjara at school. With his book, he is making an essential contribution to this celebration of language: No other book of this extent has been written entirely in Pitjantjatjara and it is an amazing resource for those wishing to learn Pitjantjatjara!
Out of a first edition of 5000, over 1000 copies have already been distributed to schools across the country, sharing Mr Williams' story with the next generation growing up in this country.