Nharangga Totem Groups
Prior to European colonisation, Nharangga were divided into four ‘clan’ or ‘totem’ groups – the Garrdi (emu), Wawi (female red kangaroo), Widhadha (shark) and Wildu (eagle). Nharangga people inherited their totem from their parents. Westerners use the term ‘totem’ to describe ‘structured relationships between human groups and natural species’. Totems represent connection, and relationships between people and their totems are profound and enduring.
These connections between humans and animal and plant species, or with other parts of the natural world, overlap and intersect. Not only is every person in connection totemically, but equally importantly, they are in connection to numerous species. The different ways of being connected produce for each person a web of kinship with the natural world.
For example, Nharangga of the emu totem, Garrdi, were connected to each other, to emu people of other Aboriginal groups, to emus and to sites of emu significance. Curramulka, Garrdimalga, is one such site. Garrdimalga translates literally as ‘emu white’, meaning a limestone water hole where emus come to drink. Stories connected with this waterhole belonged to members of the emu totem who were its custodians.
The peninsula was territorially divided into north, south, east and west, with each of the four totem groups – the Wawi, Widhadha, Garrdi and Wildu – custodians of their particular territory. People inherited both their territory and their totem from their parents. Although each family group had their own area of land, rights to country were flexible. Elder Tim Hughes stated that, although each group had their own places, Nharangga ‘were all in together’ and ‘others could come along there; there were different areas for this, different for that, and some people always hunted up there at the Hummocks, some down the bottom, some near the centre, some other places, but everyone shared special things when the time was right.’ Nharangga met at pre-designated places to perform ceremonies and share resources.
animal: female red kangaroo
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[ Nharangga Country ]