Our Language and Culture
Our people belong to a wider cultural grouping associated with ‘Corner Country’, which is where the boundaries of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia meet. The Aboriginal people of Corner Country are associated with four main language groups:
- Karnic Languages of the Lake Eyre Basin (including Wangkumara and Punthamara)
- Kalali (considered by some linguists a ‘fringe language’ between Karnic to the West and Maric to the East and North)
- Paakantyi Languages of the Darling River.
- Yarli Languages of the Cobham Lakes area across to the Flinders Ranges.
Aboriginal people in Corner Country formed ‘a special cultural community’, where despite our language differences, we shared in marriage, ceremonies, and Mura Stories (known elsewhere in Australia as Dreaming tracks).
Mura is the name given to the ancestral beings (often animals who could morph into human form) who travelled the country, forming it and naming it as they went. The title Mura is also shared with the narratives and songs recalling the travels of the ancestral beings, and these stories connect places and language communities across Corner Country. For example, an important mura for our people is the great serpent that carved out the Bulloo River while travelling underground.
Kullilli people are also associated with the groups to the East, sharing in ceremonies, gatherings and marriages with our neighbours, such as Budjiti and Mardigan.
Although colonization eventually disrupted both language and institutionalized ceremonial practice, we continue to share stories and knowledge about our country and our people today. We are renowned at the Cherbourg settlement as knowledgeable people, amongst them rainmakers and Murri doctors, or powerful sorcerers, and we are respectfully known as ‘the White Eyes’.
A custom that is today continued amongst Kullilli people is the smoking ceremony, which has a cleansing effect, and is used to prevent spirits from lingering around places, people, and things.