Pintupi refers to an Australian Aboriginal group who are part of the Western Desert cultural group and whose homeland is in the area west of Lake MacDonald and Lake Mackay in Western Australia. These people moved (or were moved) into the Aboriginal communities of Papunya and Haasts Bluff in the west of the Northern Territory in the 1940s-1980s. The last Pintupi, who came to be called the "lost tribe" or the Pintupi Nine left their traditional lifestyle in the desert in 1984.

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.

Pintupi kinship

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
Male Tjapaltjarri Nakamarra Tjungurrayi, Nungurrayi
Female Napaltjarri Tjakamarra Tjupurrula, Napurrula
Male Tjapangati Nampitjinpa Tjapanangka, Napanangka
Female Napangati Tjampitjinpa Tjangala, Nangala
Male Tjakamarra Napaltjarri Tjupurrula, Napurrula
Female Nakamarra Tjapaltjarri Tjungurrayi, Nungurrayi
Male Tjampitjinpa Napangati Tjangala, Nangala
Female Nampitjinpa Tjapangati Tjapanangka, Napangangka
Male Tjapanangka Napurrula Tjapangati, Napangati
Female Napanangka Tjupurrula Tjakamarra, Nakamarra
Male Tjungurrayi Nangala Tjapaltjarri, Napaltjarri
Female Nungurrayi Tjangala Tjampitjinpa, Nampitjinpa
Male Tjupurrula Napanangka Tjakamarra, Nakamarra
Female Napurrula Tjapanangka Tjapangati, Napangati
Male Tjangala Nungurrayi Tjampitjinpa, Nampitjinpa
Female Nangala Tjungarayyi Tjapaltjarri, Napaltjarri

Prominent Pintupi

Some of the most esteemed Aboriginal artists are Pintupi. Many who came in from the Western Desert to Papunya were involved with the birth of the Western Desert art movement there in the early 1970s with Geoffrey Bardon. Notable artists include:


See also

Search another word or see Pintupion Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature