Burial Law: Ants


Yidumduma sharing funeral and burial rites with Wardaman youth Jonas Doctor, teaching how the Red Ant Doctors, Bilawa brought this law and designed the ceremony for the people in the Creation Time Buwarraja.

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Now, when the ants had designed the smoking and everything,
the ants said, 'When anybody passed away, this is the way to go'.
The ants people are the ones that made up all the rule about the burial.
They said, 'You must bury people at the top of the forks of the tree,
or down under the earth.
You must leave them there to a certain year,
it might be 2 or 3 years, until the bone dries out.
Then you go over and have a special ceremony, dancing and that,
make a big smoke when they pull the bones out of the
graveyard and put them inside of the paperbark (coffin).
A bloke sits on top putting all the red ochre on them (bones).
The smoke is going at the same time and they collect all the bones
and put them in the paperbark and wrap it around.
They do the big dance.
They smoke the whole area where they made a hole
in the graveyard and put it back together and seal it.
They leave all the bones on that site, overnight, you don't see them there.
Two people go over and collect the bone and take them away,
over to the rock shelter.
A special type of rock place is where they take them to.
It's called 'Bamugarra place'.
The Bamugarra place they take them to and store them.
Every year the people have to go there to visit the bones,
many bones are there.
They go along and before they get close by,
they give voice and voice after voice.
They sing with the boomerang... away from where the bones are.
The sound of the boomerang and the people
singing notifies all the bone people,
'They are coming'.
All the bone people are getting ready with the spiritual,
they are sitting all ready up front.
When they get close by they sing there all night, all day and all night,
to daylight, for two days.
After two days, before they leave, they have a special (ceremony).
They collect all the leaf of the river gum,
they make the fire and smoke one another out.
They smoke one another out to get the bad spirits away from their mind,
because some of their family is in there...
Then when they leave, they get another type of leaf.
They walk in the queue, then the one bloke in the tail drags this leaf along,
brushing all the footprints away, that doesn't leave any mark.
That way, all the bone people are giving them a clearance to say,
'You can swim in the water, you won't get attacked by anything,
you can walk through the long grass, nothing will hurt you".
They give clearance, removing all the dangerous spirits away from you,
through the ceremony those old bone people.
All the design was put together by the red ants.
Now, we call that, in the white man word.... a mortuary site,
because  the ants clean all the flesh off your bone... 
they're the boss for the smoke and the bone and everything too.
They make sure they do the right thing,
They make strong, firm termite earth and everything today,
you can see the ant bed.
The ant bed has all sorts of different medicine in it, that they make too.
And the ants are the ones who are a good designer.

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