Cranky Iti, Tin Mining

Yu, Moolyella-karti yanayirni waninyikinyiyirni Moolyella-nga. All maajangarrangu kalkunikinyiyi, manayinganinyi warrkamujinikinyiyi tiyin. We get’m pick and shovel manayi nganarnaku. Right, oh pirti karlinyikinyiyirni pirti, kuyawan pirti or long one makanuyirili nganimarta. Malyana, malyana, finish’m right up. Hard ground-piyijijarrikinyi tiyinjartinypa white one, you know, jungka red one-pa mix up. Right pala now malyanikinyiyirni put’m cart’m put’m outside jarntirniyili finish’m. Palanga now wirrinikinyiyirni yarlkajinikinyiyirni wet-pala finish, ngapijarrikinyi dry-pala jarrikinyi finish. Mungka now kutapinikinyiyirni mungka short-pala wirlanawanti. Parla pala wirlanikinyiyirni, wirlana, wirlana, wirlana, jurtujinangulu all the tiyin there finish. Right, oh dish wirrinikinyiyirni jartungu. Jartu nyarra yapinapinti palanga purtamanikinyiyirni kanganyikinyiyirni jajarrpinikinyiyirni. Wangalju ngurnungu ruwanyikinyi jungka all gone, only tiyinjakun pungkanyikinyi, finish. Righto, that’s boy-ju jinikinyiyi, girls kajanikinyiyi yapinikinyiyi now jartulu palalu finish. Put’m fruit tin or tinned meat tin-ja, same tinned meat tin pala, wirrinikinyiyili winyajinikinyiyi pala, put’m in a fruit tin. Righto, ‘nother one again tinned meat full put’m pala, level’m-mu pala. Level-palayiji wirrinikinyiyi put’m in a bag palal jinikinyiyirni. Might be tin or tin of fruit all gone in a bag. Jintalu good-place-jingi might be over twenty fruit. Take’m, get a water dish-ngi, wajam, wajam. Righto, put’m-mu again yarlkajinikinyiyirni kalikingi. Kalikingi finish, righto start’m ‘gain yapina, yapirni, yapirni, put’m-mu fruit tin-jipa finish. Righto, wirrinikinyiyi iron now maninyikinyiyirni magnet. Righto, palalu now he pick’m up all that ngapi iron-rrangu. Iron-rrangu put’m finish nothing-jarrikinyi. Right up take’m tuwakarti, jirtamarra wanikinyi DonThompson ngapi purluka, tuwapurluka. Palajinikinyi finish’m, weigh’m-jinikinyi finished, money yinganyikinyinganinya finish. Tuwa maninyikinyiyirni palan everybody-lu ngurnungu yananyikinyiyi we might gone camping out another place, all that lot country ngurnugu kakarra. Punyjungunya, Mirlarlinya palajarrangu maninyikinyiyirni. Martanya all that country maninyikinyiyirni warrkamujarrinyiyirni palanga, finish.


We went to live at Moolyella. The leaders all looked out for us there and took us out to where they were mining for tin. They got picks and shovels for us. We dug holes, square ones and long ones, really big ones. We used the picks to dig them out. The tin was found in hard ground, with white and red soils mixed up together. We dug the dirt out into an area next to the holes which we had cleared away. We spread all the wet dirt out to dry. We cut short wooden beaters and pounded the tin ore until it got really soft. We then put it into yandying dishes. We scooped up the ore in the yandying dishes and took it over to where we winnowed it. The wind blew all the dirt away until only the tin was left, falling down in a pile. That’s what the men did. The women sat down and did the yandying. The refined tin ore we put into the fruit tins and meat tins. We had to use the same tins over and over again. We’d fill them up, level them off, and pour them into the bag. All the tins full of ore got poured into a bag. In a good spot we could fill up over twenty fruit-tins. We got water in a dish and washed the dirt out of the ore, and spread it all out to dry on a sheet of canvas. When that process was finished, we started over again, yandying, and putting the ore into fruit tins. We got the iron out of the ore with magnets: the magnets picked up all the ore and left the tin behind. And when there was no iron left we took the ore to the store [at Moolyella] which was run by a man with glasses called Don Thompson. He took the ore and weighed it, and gave us money for it. Then all of us bought stores and we went off. Sometimes we’d go camping at another place in the country over to the east, around Punyjungunya and Mirlarlinya. We used to get tin from these places as well, from Martanya and all that country, we used to work there and mine tin.


Audio: Cranky Iti (Kujupurra), tape 2, Nyangumarta, recorded by Anne Scrimgeour, Mijijimaya, 25 June 1993, translated by Barbara Hale and Mark Clendon, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Library.
Photo: Cranky Iti (Kujupurra), Board of Anthropological Research, South Australian Museum, AA346/4/22/1 Marble Bar R356.

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