Since the time of Tjukurpa, hunting and gathering has linked us Anangu traditional owners with our land. Gathering food expresses and reaffirms knowledge and ownership of the land.
With bush food collection, women and men perform specific tasks that contribute to the benefit of the whole community. Traditionally, the seperation of men's and women's business exists by Law, and these functions are balanced by a strong sense of cooperation.
Anangu women were traditionally responsible for gathering mai, tjuratja, maku and some kuka. Men can and do dig for honey ants or collect fruit, but generally they are more likely to be hunting kuka (meat). The men use a kulata (spear) with the help of a miru (spear thrower) to hunt malu (red kangaroo), kanyala (euro) and kalaya (emu). Children have an important role to play in gathering and hunting. They accompany their parents and other adults to collect bush food and play, dig and work with the adults whilst watching and learning.
Anangu use plants for many purposes, not just for food:
- food, nectar and honey
- raw materials for implements, weapons and artefacts
- cementing and adhesive substances
- fuel for cooking and warmth
- ornaments and decoration used in ritual ceremonies
- source of water and edible invertebrates.
Warning: Some species of fruit are very poisonous. Anangu know the difference between the poisonous and non-poisonous varieties. All plants are protected within the National Park and should be left alone.
Women use three types of bowls. A wira is the smallest of the three bowls and is also used as a digging tool. Kanilpa is used primarily for cleaning seeds and piti, the largest dish, is shaped for carrying water. A head ring, manguri, is used to carry dishes on top of the head and a wana (digging stick), is used to loosen the earth to find bush foods. A tjungari (large grindstone) is used to process seed and the ground seed is then made into nyuma (seed cake). A smaller grindstone is used for preparing medicinal plants and ochre.
These traditionally designed implements are now often made for sale as artefacts. They are also used for demostration and learning purposes. The wana (digging stick) and wira (digging tool) are now made of metal and the kulata (spear) is often replaced by a rifle. Today people still enjoy hunting and gathering bush foods for teaching, enjoyment and experience.
Animal foods are still prepared according to the Laws. Such knowledge is highly valued and the older people are keen to pass it on to their children and grandchildren.