The Anindilyakwa people’s Dreaming stories explain how they were brought to Groote Eylandt on a series of songlines which created the land, rivers, animals and people, and which named everything pertaining to the region, laying down the rules of marriage, kinship and ceremonial law.
The Indigenous people who occupy the Groote Archipelago today are an amalgamation of two cultures, the Warnindilyakwa, who have occupied Groote Eylandt for around eight thousand years, and the Nunggubuyu, from the mainland. The latter, at the invitation of the Warnindilyakwa, began their migration to Groote in the second half of the eighteenth century. The Warnindilyakwa and the Nunggubuyu now constitute a family-based collective culture bound by Ceremonial participation.
Ceremonial belief dominates the thinking and behaviours of the Indigenous people of the archipelago. Additionally, the Warnindilyakwa and the Nunggubuyu intermarry and are bound by a common kinship system whereby they are all related to each other and follow immutable rules governing their relationships and day to day interaction. Both cultures speak, as their first language, Anindilyakwa. The Groote archipelago Aboriginal culture is now commonly referred to as the Anindilyakwa culture and the people as the Anindilyakwa people. The Anindilyakwa people observe two moieties: Dua and Yirritja practising exogamous marriage with observance of patrifiliate relationships. The practice of polygyny, once considered vital for survival, is no longer formally recognised.
Men’s business and women’s business now have dedicated anthropologists, male and female, to record important secret-sacred information. As the anthropologists also work as social advocates, their work ensures equal opportunity to both genders, in terms of broader community engagement and consultation processes.