This article is for the Australian Indigenous group. For their language, see Pitjantjatjara dialect. For the lands act concerning them, see Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act 1981.
Pitjantjatjara ranger at Uluru
|Regions with significant populations|
|Central Australia:||approx. 4,000|
|Traditional & Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Pitjantjatjara (English //, Aboriginal pronunciation: [ˈpɪɟanɟaɟaɾa] or [ˈpɪɟanɟaɾa]) are an Aboriginal people of the Central Australian desert. They are closely related to the Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra and their languages are, to a large extent, mutually intelligible (all are varieties of the Western Desert language).
They refer to themselves as Anangu (people). The Pitjantjatjara live mostly in the northwest of South Australia, extending across the border into the Northern Territory to just south of Lake Amadeus, and west a short distance into Western Australia. The land is an inseparable and important part of their identity, and every part of it is rich with stories and meaning to Anangu.
They have, for the most part, given up their nomadic hunting and gathering lifestyle but have retained their language and much of their culture in spite of increasing influences from the broader Australian community.
Today there are still about 4,000 Anangu living scattered in small communities and outstations across their traditional lands, forming one of the most successful joint land arrangements in Australia with Aboriginal Traditional Owners.
The name Pitjantjatjara derives from the word pitjantja, a form of the verb 'go' which, combined with the comitative suffix -tjara means something like ' pitjantja-having' (i.e. the variety that uses the word pitjantja for 'go'). This distinguishes it from its near neighbour Yankunytjatjara which has yankunytja for the same meaning. This naming strategy is also the source of the names of Ngaanyatjarra and Ngaatjatjarra but in that case the names contrast the two languages based on their words for 'this' (respectively, ngaanya and ngaatja). The two languages Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara may be grouped together under the name Nyangatjatjara (indicating that they have nyangatja for 'this') which then contrasts them with Ngaanyatjarra and Ngaatjatjarra. 
The name Pitjantjatjara is usually pronounced (in normal, fast speech) with elision of one of the repeated syllables -tja-, thus: pitjantjara. In more careful speech all syllables will be pronounced.
Some major communities
See WARU community directory for a complete list
- in South Australia type 2
- In the Northern Territory
- In Western Australia
- Wingellina also called Irruntju
A 73,000 square kilometre tract of land was established in the north west of South Australia for the Pitjantjatjara in 1921 after they lost much land due to hostile encroachment by hunters and ranchers.
Extended droughts in the 1920s and between 1956 to 1965 in their homelands in the Great Victoria and Gibson Deserts led many Pitjantjatjara, and their traditionally more westerly relations, the Ngaanyatjarra, to move east towards the railway between Adelaide and Alice Springs in search of food and water, thus mixing with the most easterly of the three, the Yankunytjatjara. They refer to themselves as Anangu, which originally just meant people in general, but has now come to imply an Aboriginal person or, more specifically, a member of one of the groups that speaks a variety of the Western Desert Language.
In response to continuing outside pressures on the Anangu, the South Australian Government gave its support to a plan by the Presbyterian Church to set up the Ernabella Mission in the Musgrave Ranges as a safe haven. This mission, largely due to the actions of their advocate, Dr. Charles Duguid, was ahead of the times in that there was no systematic attempt to destroy Aboriginal culture, as was common on many other missions.
From 1950 onwards, many Anangu were forced to leave their homelands due to British nuclear tests at Maralinga. Some Anangu were subsequently contaminated by the nuclear fallout from the atomic tests, and many have died as a consequence. Their experience of issues of land rights and native title in South Australia has been unique. After four years of campaigning and negotiations with government and mining groups, the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act was passed on 19 March 1981, granting freehold title over 103,000 square kilometres of land in the northwestern corner of South Australia.
The Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act, 1984 (SA) granted freehold title of an area of 80,764 square kilometres to Maralinga Tjarutja. The subsequently named Mamungari Conservation Park) with 21,357.8 km² was transferred to the Maralinga Tjarutja in 2004.
Recognition of sacred sites
The sacred sites of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) possess important spiritual and ceremonial significance for the Anangu with more than forty named sacred sites and eleven separate Tjurkurpa (or 'Dreaming') tracks in the area, some of which lead as far as the sea. Ayers Rock and The Olgas are separated from the Pitjantjatjara Lands by the border between the Northern Territory and South Australia and have become a major tourist attraction and a National Park. The Central Land Council laid claim to the Ayers-Rock-Mount Olga National Park and some adjoining vacant Crown land in 1979, but this claim was challenged by the Northern Territory government.
After years of intensive lobbying by the Land Council, on 11 November 1983, Prime Minister Bob Hawke announced that the Federal Government intended to transfer inalienable freehold title to them. He agreed to ten main points they had demanded in exchange for a lease-back arrangement to the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service in a "joint-management" régime where Anangu would have a majority on the Board of Management. This was implemented in 1985, after further negotiations extended the lease period from 50 to 99 years and agreement was reached on the retention of tourists' access to Ayers Rock.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (February 2008)|
- Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
- Kimber, R. G., Man from Arltunga, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, Western Australia, 1986, esp. chapter 12
- Goddard (1985)
- WARU community directory
- Tame, Adrian; Robotham, F.P.J. (1982). MARALINGA: British A-Bomb Australian Legacy. Melbourne: Fontana / Collins. ISBN 0-00-636391-1.
- Duguid, Charles (1972). Doctor and the Aborigines. Rigby. ISBN 0-85179-411-4.
- Glass, Amee; Hackett, Dorothy (1979). Ngaanyatjarra texts. New Revised edition of Pitjantjatjara texts (1969). Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. ISBN 0-391-01683-0.
- Goddard, Cliff (1996). Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara to English Dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press. ISBN 0-949659-91-6.
- Goddard, Cliff (1985). A Grammar of Yankunytjatjara. Institute for Aboriginal Develoepment Press. ISBN 0-949659-32-0.
- Hilliard, Winifred M. (1976). The People in Between: The Pitjantjatjara People of Ernabella. Seal Books. ISBN 0-7270-0159-0. (reprint)
- Isaacs, Jennifer (1992). Desert Crafts: Anangu Maruku Punu. Doubleday. ISBN 0-86824-474-0.
- Kavanagh, Maggie (1990). Minyma Tjuta Tjunguringkula Kunpuringanyi: Women Growing Strong Together. Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara Women's Council 1980-1990. ISBN 0-646-02068-4.
- Toyne, Phillip; Vachon, Daniel (1984). Growing Up the Country: The Pitjantjatjara struggle for their land. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-007641-7.
- Wallace, Phil; Wallace, Noel (1977). Killing Me Softly: The Destruction of a Heritage. Melbourne: Thomas Nelson. ISBN 0-17-005153-6.
- Woenne-Green, Susan; Johnston, Ross; Sultan, Ros; Wallis, Arnold (1993). Competing Interests: Aboriginal Participation in National Parks and Conservation Reserves in Australia - A Review. Fitzroy, Victoria: Australian Conservation Foundation. ISBN 0-85802-113-7.
- Ngapartji Online course of Pitjantjatjara language, and related performance event
- Web portal for Anangu Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra peoples, communities and organisations
- Yalata Land Management
- Pitjantjatjara entry in the AusAnthrop database
- Pitjantjatjara People at Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements (ATNS)