Over recent decades, many Pintupi have moved back into their traditional country, as part of the outstation movement; setting up the communities of Kintore (Walungurru in Pintupi) in the Northern Territory, Kiwirrkura and Jupiter Well (in Pintupi: Puntutjarrpa) in Western Australia.
Inhabiting a very remote part of Australia, the Pintupi were among the last Aboriginal Australians to leave their traditional lifestyle. For many, this occurred as a result of the Blue Streak missile tests. As these would have a trajectory landing in the desert areas known to still be inhabited it was decided that these people should be relocated. A number of trips were made to the area and Aboriginal people were located and moved (or encouraged to move) in to one of the settlements on the eastern fringe of the desert, such as Haasts Bluff, Hermannsburg and Papunya.
In the 1960s, the Menzies Liberal government forced the removal of traditional-living Pintupi to settlements east of their country, closer to Alice Springs. The government argued that they were not ready to live in modern society and needed to be re-educated prior to assimilation into white society. In practice, this meant relocation from their traditional lands and suppression of their language, art and culture.
This policy also involved the forced removal of thousands of Aboriginal children from their parents and their dispersal into government or religious institutions or foster care (see Stolen Generation).
At Papunya, a government settlement, Pintupi mixed with Warlpiri, Arrernte, Anmatyerre and Luritja language groups, but formed the largest language group. Conditions were so bad that 129 people, or almost one-sixth of the residents, died of treatable diseases such as hepatitis, meningitis and encephalitis between 1962 and 1966.
In common with neighbouring groups, such as the Warlpiri, the Pintupi have a complex kinship system, with eight different skin groups, made more so by distinct prefixes for male and female skin names; "Tj" for males, "N" for females:
|Gender||Skin name||Can marry only||Children will be|