The Loritja or Luritja people, also known as Kukatja, are an Indigenous Australian people of the Northern Territory. Their traditional lands are immediately west of the Derwent River, that forms a frontier with the Arrernte people, with their lands covering some 10,300 square miles (27,000 km2). Their language is the Luritja dialect, a Western Desert language.


The name Kukatja is one shared by 4 other distinct tribes throughout Australia. The root of the word seems to suggest pride in being 'meat eaters' rather than people who scrounge for vegetables for sustenance.[3]

The Northern Territory Kukatja were often referred to in the ethnographical literature by Arerrnte exonyms for them,[lower-alpha 2] either Loritja or Aluritja, which bore pejorative connotations.[3][lower-alpha 3] In recent times, the use of Luritja or Kukatja-Luritja to define themselves and refer to their culture has become commonplace.[6]


According to an estimate made by Norman Tindale, the Kukatja of the Northern Territory had tribal lands covering some 10,300 square miles (27,000 km2).[1] Their territory is immediately west of the Derwent River, that formed their frontier with the Arrernte.[6][lower-alpha 4] He defined them as dwelling west of the Gosse Range[7] and Palm Valley on the south MacDonnell Ranges. Their southern limits went as far as Tempe Downs, and they ranged southwest to Lake Amadeus, the George Gill Range, the Merandji (the Cleland Hills) and Inindi near Mount Forbes. They were also present round Palmer, Walker, and Rudall creeks.[1]

The Kukatja divided the year into four seasons, not by months, but in terms of heat or its absence: lurba/lurbaka was the cold period, followed by the warming period called mballangata. The hottestpeak, in summer, was known as mballaka/albobuka, followed by lurbagata.[8]


The first sustained, fundamental work on the Kukatja was done by the Lutheran missionary Carl Strehlow who produced 6 monumental volumes in German on them and the neighbouring Arerrnte that were published between 1907 and 1920.

The Kukatja, together with other central Australian tribes, were the object of the first attempt to undertake an examination of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theories concerning 'primitive' society in Australia when Géza Róheim did fieldwork among them for eight months in 1929.[9]

Alternative names

  • Kukadja
  • Kukacha
  • Gugadja
  • Gugada
  • Gogadja
  • Kukata (error)
  • Loritja (Aranda pejorative exonym)
  • Luritja, Luritcha, Loritcha
  • Lurritji
  • Luridja
  • Lo-rit-ya
  • Aluridja
  • Loorudgie
  • Loorudgee
  • Juluridja
  • Uluritdja
  • Aluratji. (Ngalia exonym)
  • Aluridi. (Pintupi and Pitjantjatjara exonym)
  • Aluratja. ( Iliaura exonym)
  • Western Loritja[1]

Some words

The following are designated as Kukatja (Loritja) words by R. H. Mathews.


  1. For the distinction see Tindale's remarks.[2]
  2. 'Kukatja ist hier Eigennamen; es ist aber auch der Stammes-Name, den sich die Loritja beilegen. Loritja werden sie von den Aranda genannt.'[4]
  3. 'Suggestive of everything that is barbarian, crude, savage and generally speaking, non-Aranda.'[5]
  4. Kenny states that those Kukatja in these border lands had a greater overlap with their eastern neighbours:'Róheim (1974: 126) called these people 'Lurittya Merino', and noted that they were seen as 'half Aranda'. People who belong to this border area are still today fluent speakers of both Aranda and Loritja and share ancestors as well as traditional laws and customs.'[6]
  5. Willshire's marloo.[10]
  6. Willshire's pup-pa.[10]


  1. Tindale 1974, p. 229.
  2. Tindale 1974, pp. 137–138.
  3. Tindale 1974, p. 137.
  4. Strehlow 1907, p. 57, n.9.
  5. Strehlow 1947, p. 52,cf.177.
  6. Kenny 2013, p. 20.
  7. Hamacher & Goldsmith 2013, p. 304.
  8. Schulze 1891, p. 213.
  9. Morton 2017, pp. 202–206.
  10. Willshire 1891b, p. 44.
  11. Mathews 1906, p. 120.


This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.