Connection to land
Apart from a common language it is the strong relationships between individuals of different families with instil in Alyawarr the sense of a region. The Alyawarr region, for them, is the area where most of their relations live.
The basic principle of Alyawarr belonging is the ‘patri-lineal descent group’, that is, the group of people who ‘inherit’ rights and responsibilities to a particular country through their father and father’s father. These people are called ‘apmerek-artwey’ in Alyawarr, glossed as ‘bosses’ or ‘owners’.
In addition, Alyawarr also inherit a different set of rights and responsibilities through their mother’s father, their father’s mother and their mother’s mother. Belonging to a country through ‘mother’s side’ places people in a kwertengerl (kurdungurlu, glossed as ‘manager’ or ‘worker’) relationship to that country and to its patri-lineal members. In this sense any Alyawarr individual can possess a concrete relationship with up to four separate ‘countries’ through his or her four grandparents, and he or she will appear on up to four different genealogies.
To exemplify potential relationships within the Alyawarr region in a simplified genealogy diagram, click here.
As can be seen on this highly simplified family tree, an individual can potentially be linked, directly or indirectly, to 8 country groups on the basis of descent and marriage alone (although it needs to be noted here that connection through marriage alone does not necessarily confer any specific rights to that country). If it then is considered that there are 15 ‘core’ Alyawarr patri-lineal ‘families’, and each individual can be connected in one way or another to potentially half of these groups, it can be seen how Alyawarr perception of the region is based on concrete family relationships in the sense of ‘we are one mob’.
[This is an extract from Olaf Geerken's Alyawarr Regional Development Report, 2005]