Kurpaliny Bessie Doonday
Born about 1940
Walmajarri, Wangkajunga language groups, Napangarti skin group
Paruku Indigenous Protected Area
My brother [Rex Johns] said, “We gotta keep the stories alive, the land alive…”
Bessie was born near Billiluna and worked at the old station before travelling to Fitzroy Crossing and Christmas Creek where her brother Ned Cox was living. After returning to Balgo, Bessie’s father, Tiger, and brother, Rex Johns began advocating for their people to return to Paruku and establish Mulan community.
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.