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Kaurna Culture

Kaurna Culture

Muna Palti Munaintyerlo ‘First Song from Ancient Time’

Muna Palti Munaintyerlo

First Song from Ancient Time

Muna palti munaintyerlo first song from ancient time, or Munaintya, explains the Kaurna world (this is commonly called the Dreaming). It is the time when light first came into the world and awakened the ancestral spirit beings of creation. Palti is both song and dance, they are intertwined and keep the stories.

It is appropriate to acknowledge the existence of Muna palti munaintyerlo in everything that lives above, below and within the sacred landscape. Munaintya is constant and continuous, it never sleeps, it lives through the people of the land and the land lives through the people. If the people are sick, the land is sick and the opposite also applies. Munaintya is like string, it looks like one woven object, but every loop is different and in Munaintya narratives we are all different but all tied to the spiritual identity within the land.

Wodli parri  - Milky Way
Wodli parri - The Milky Way

There are many explanations as to what the Dreaming is. Historian Bill Gammage put it this way:

All religions attempt two things: to explain existence and to regulate behaviour. Aboriginal religion integrated these by assuming the spiritual parity of all life, and by subjecting every aspect of it to overwhelming religious sanction. This pivoted on the Dreaming, a word tolerably conveying the sense of timelessness central to Aboriginal belief (2011:123).

The cultural custodians say that the Dreaming is deeply personal. Individuals are connected to the Dreaming through their totem design. Aboriginal people use the word dreaming because very often visions or insights into two realities are received through dreams, from the understanding of the human and spiritual relationship of the conscious and unconscious worlds of day and night.

Munaintya is interconnected through cultural practice and cultural knowledge layered throughout Country. Munaintya is a continuum of sacred time, space and spiritual relationships; it is how Aboriginal people were taught to live in harmony with the land following the protocols of the lore makers which ensured respect for all beings who breathe and feel Country with you.

Kaurna and other Aboriginal stories talk of the land with respect, for everything that is taken something must be given back, the concept of owning the land and taking without giving back breaks customary law and there are repercussions for law breakers and their families when this occurs.

There are many layers and meanings in Munaintya narratives. The surface layers are made more accessible to the uninitiated, children and outsiders. More complex aspects are revealed to those who have ‘earned’ the right to know or have a ‘need’ to know. Aboriginal people are very generous in their sharing of their cultural ways, to evolve their thinking with others but it must be done the right way and in a respectful manner.

Many Munaintya narratives crisscrossed Kaurna Yerta and still do. More than twenty narratives are known of that relate to the Adelaide region; the land country, sky country and sea country. The continued living presence of Munaintya is not always fully known and understood by the wider community.

The Kaurna cultural and spiritual renewal process within the urban context has now been on-going for the past 30 years. A new, and urban, generation is expanding on what is remembered and passed down through oral traditional practice from senior Kaurna cultural custodians. Knowledge is also being shared through ceremony with other cultural custodians from the traditional trade and song lines. Kaurna knowledge, and writing about, Munaintya will continue to become stronger in the coming generations.

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