Ngilpirr Spider Snell
Born about 1925
Wangkajunga language group, Jangkarti skin group
I saw my mother coming and laid down for her. She killed me, covered me in hot coals and ash. [Then] there was a tiny snake where she had me cooking… I was born right there at Kurtal. That little snake was my dreaming.
I am jila. I am one of his lightnings.
Ngilpirr Spider Snell is the senior custodian for Kurtal jila. He has performed and exhibited nationally and internationally. Like many other desert people with ancestral ties to Country, he sees himself as inseparable from the place that gives him his power. As one of Kurtal’s lightning bolts, he passes on this power, and his knowledge of jila law, to his grandsons.
2007, by Spider Snell
acrylic on canvas, 120×90 cm
National Museum of Australia
Spider Snell is the brother of Jarinyanu David Downs and the ceremonial boss for Kurtal.
I was a good hunter when I was a kid, killing all kinds of animals. I used to cook them and chuck bones in the waterhole. I was a good kid, looking after my own self. My mother and father went hunting sometimes for two days or more. At night I would say, ‘Kurtal, I’m alone, my parents haven’t came back yet. Can you look after me?’