Mikarri Shirley Brown
Walmajarri language group, Nangala skin group
Paruku Indigenous Protected Area
Shirley is the daughter of Bessie Doonday and Malcolm Brown, whose father was the Billiluna Station manager, Len Brown. She was born in Billiluna and grew up with her grandmother in Alice Springs. In 2001 her elders asked her to set up the Paruku Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). Shirley continues to work for the IPA today, running Caring for Country, Ranger and Collecting Traditional Knowledge programs.
2007, by Veronica Lulu, Anna Johns, Shirley Brown, Lyn Manson, Wendy Wise, Bessie Doonday, Chamia Sammuels, Daisy Kungah and Kim Mahood
acrylic on canvas, 310×146 cm
Collection of Paruku Indigenous Protected Area
In 2001 the native title rights of the Tjurabalan people were recognised by the Federal Court of Australia. More than 4300 square kilometres of their traditional lake Country was declared to be an Indigenous Protected Area.
Kartiya [white people] used to keep him, that land, but people knew it was for them. My brother [Rex Johns] said, ‘We gotta keep the stories alive, the land alive. We all staying in Mulan now, that’s our country.’
Kurpaliny Bessie Doonday, 2007
As part of the management of their lands, Paruku artists have been producing extraordinary hybrid maps, which fuse the topographic detail of Western mapmaking with fields of intricate dotting. This map of Paruku shows the rich plant food and medicinal resources surrounding the lake country and the traditional burning practices still employed by Tjurabalan people.