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The Utopia Bush Medicine Project

July 26, 2019 2 min read

A large-scale effort to document and address the importance of bush medicines at Utopia occurred in 2007 when a project called The Utopia Bush Medicine Project was initiated in response to a request from senior women of Utopia for support to document traditional bush medicine knowledge. They wanted to ensure that younger people would continue to identify plants, know where to find them, how to prepare them and how to use them. 

Over the next three years the project, led by the Centre for Australian Language and Linguistics (CALL) at Batchelor Institute, produced many animations, films, books and exhibitions on Bush Medicine. Some of the women who were involved in the project include Lena Pwerle, Pansy McLeod, Katie Kemarre, Lucky Morton, Patsy Long, Jeannie Mills, Lily Lion and Malanda Kunoth.

Both Katie and Patsy's work is featured in our Bush Medicine Exhibition

Some of the outputs of the project are available to watch or read on CALL's website, including a video of artist Pansy McLeod making bush medicine, a slideshow and voice over of ilpengk medicine being made, and Lena Pwerle showing how to cure warts with a spindle from the conkerberry tree.  

Resources

Here are direct links to some of their amazing content:

Video: Lena Pwerle and Anna Price Petyarre treating warts

Video: Pansy McLeod making a medicinal drink from the leaves of a bush plum

Slideshow of women making ilpengk. Voice over by Lena Pwerle and Rosie Kunoth Kngwarreye. Ilpengk leaves are collected, crushed and boiled to make a bush medicine. Dorrie Jones paints this bush medicine and her work is featured in Bush Medicine Exhibition. 

Animation: Healing fat. A combination of awelye(women's ceremony) and topical treatment (made of animal fat and ilpengk) to heal the sick.

Video: Making bush shampoo. A bush ‘cosmetic’ rather than a medicine, but this video was produced by young women at Utopia as part of the Bush Medicine Project.  


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