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Adnyamathanha Flag.svg
Flag of the Adnyamathanha people
Recognise Campaign Adam Goodes Presser.jpg
Total population
Unknown (110 recorded fluent speakers of Adnyamathanha language)
Regions with significant populations
Flinders Ranges
Adnyamathanha, English (Australian Aboriginal English, Australian English)
Christianity (Baptist), traditional beliefs

The Adnyamathanha[1] (Pronounced: /ˈɑːdnjəmʌdənə/) are a contemporary Indigenous Australian people from the Flinders Ranges, South Australia, formed as an aggregate of several distinct peoples. Strictly speaking the ethnonym Adnyamathanha was an alternative name for the Wailpi.[2] Adnyamathanha is also often used as the name of their traditional language, although the language is more commonly called "yura ngarwala" by Adnyamathanha people themselves (being Adnyamathanha for—loosely translated—"our speech").


Adnyamathanha is a member of the Thura-Yura language family and the only one which still has fluent native speakers.[3]


According to David Horton's map "Aboriginal Australia", the Adnyamathanha lands lie on the west banks of Lake Frome and extend south and west over the northern Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park and northwards over the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park.[4]

On the northern edges of the Adnyamathanha tribal lands are the Diyari lands, on the western edges are the Kokatha lands. To the south are the Barngarla, Nukunu, and Ngadjuri. To the east are the Malyangapa.

In 2016 Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park was renamed from Flinders Ranges National Park in recognition of its Adnyamathanha heritage. The word ikara means "meeting place" in Adnyamathanha language, and refers in this instance to Wilpena Pound (situated within the park), a traditional meeting place of the Adnyamathanha people.[5]

Social system[edit]

The Adnyamathanha constitute an agglomeration of several peoples, the Kuyani, Wailpi, Yardliyawara, and Pilatapa (amongst others), which are traditional groups of the northern Flinders Ranges and some areas around Lake Torrens. The name Adnyamathanha means "rock people" in the Adnyamathanha language, and is a term referring to the Lakes Culture societies living in that area. They share a common identity, which they get from their ancestors; this common bond is their language and culture which is known as Yura Muda. Adnyamathanha people often refer to themselves as 'yura', and non-Aboriginal people as 'udnyu'.

Mythology and astronomy[edit]

The origins of the Adnyamathanha are told through creation stories, passed down from generation to generation.[6] The primordial creator figure of the rainbow serpent is, among them, known as akurra.[7]

The Pleiades are known to them as the Makara which are seen as a group of marsupial-like women with pouches, while the Magellanic Clouds are known as Vutha Varkla which are seen as two male lawmen also known as the Vaalnapa.[7][8]

History of contact[edit]

In 1851 the first Europeans settled some of the Adnyamathanha land. This led to many conflicts because the Adnyamathanha people were pushed off their land by the Europeans. In response to the settling, Aboriginal people stole sheep, which in turn led to retaliatory killings. Aboriginal stockmen and housekeepers soon became a way of life for the early settlers.[6]

Native title[edit]

On 30 March 2009, the Adnyamathanha people were recognised by the Federal Court of Australia as having native title rights over about 41,000 square kilometres (16,000 sq mi) running east from the edge of Lake Torrens, through the northern Flinders Ranges, approaching the South Australian border with New South Wales.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]