Pintupi - History and Cultural Relations

The Pintupi were among the last of the Western Desert Peoples to experience the effects of contact with Whites—prior to the early 1900s, most of their contacts were with other Peoples of similar culture who lived in adjacent territories of the desert. With the establishment of White settlements in the areas to the north, east, and west of Pintupi territory, Pintupi began to migrate to settlement outskirts, attracted by the availability of water and food during times of drought. In the early days of this migration, Pintupi tended to settle in camps separate from those of other migrants such as the Aranda and Walpiri, but as these communities grew in response to further droughts in the desert, the government began to establish permanent camps. Pintupi resisted integration into the broader population of the camps, attempting to maintain their own separate settlements apart from the rest and participating minimally in the affairs of the larger settlement. The trend since the late 1970s has been for the Pintupi to move back toward their traditional Gibson Desert territory, a process that has been facilitated by the drilling of new bore holes at outstations so that access to permanent water sources may be achieved.

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