Since 2005, the Lajamanu Community in the Northern Territory of Australia have joined together with Tracks Dance Company to explore the Warlpiri people’s connections to country and each other at a large-scale, biannual outdoor spectacular called the Milpirri Festival.
Newmont Australia has provided long-standing sponsorship of Milpirri, and in October 2016, personnel from our Tanami operations were among those invited to take part in the festivities.
The event, produced by the Warlpiri people and Tracks Dance Company, celebrated the values found in the Warlpiri “kurdiji” ceremony – recognized as being associated with the transition from child to adult. In the lead-up to the event, a team of cultural and community development workers delivered daily workshops at the Lajamanu School that helped to inform the soundtrack and youth dance sections of the festival. Choreographers and teachers worked with the students to create contemporary dances for songs that the children helped to write.
“Seeing all the hard work, commitment and innovation come together on the night was inspiring. The faces of all the schoolkids lit up as the performance opened with the Lightning Man dancing Milpirri (Rain Cloud). It was a privilege to have the Warlpiri people share their sacred story with us,” recounted Sian Dodd, a member of Tanami’s Sustainability and External Relations team.
As part of community investment programming, Newmont seeks to support initiatives that develop community and cultural identity and that enhance educational attainment within communities.
With a focus on learning and cultural identity, the Milpirri festival is a masterful collaboration with many positive impacts on the community.
Lajamanu teachers have reported encouraging attendance levels at school since the integration of Warlpiri cultural concepts, and the general physical fitness of the community has also shown improvements in connection to activities in the program.
“Newmont Australia has a strong relationship with each of the Traditional Owner groups associated with our operations across the country. The employment and value the community places on the Milpirri Festival and the participation by elders and the youngest members of the community is heart-warming to see,” Dodd noted.
To learn more about the indigenous groups with whom we engage around the world, visit our 2016 sustainability report, Beyond the Mine.