Merek Alyelhem

Singing Country

Nhenh akertam ayeng anerlanem song-akert. Arrengey atyenhel ayeng kaltyel antheke. Kwerelang ayeng stick on irrek ketherrentye mpanngk. I want all my son learn irretya song nhenh… kalty-irretya antherr song nhenh arey. Alakenheng kalty-irretyek young people arey if you mwerr anthwerr… you got good brains alakenh-lang you can catch ‘em song, alkwert arrernity. This the main one, you can’t ankeyel lyelaperl

I’ve got this song here; my grandfather taught me. I used to hang around with him before coming out (from my initiation). I want all my sons to learn this song… you mob have to learn this song. That’s how young people got to learn. If you got good brains you can catch the songs and learn them, you can learn the designs for shield too. This is the main one, you can’t be lazy and use other people’s songs.

– Mick Ngal Turner

The shields made during this project were produced according to Anmatyerr Law. As each shield was being painted the merek-artwey and kweretengerl will sing the song for that design and its Country. These songs can be for Anengkerr ancestors that either travel long distances or are mer-kweteth, meaning that they stay within the boundaries of that Country. In this video, the men are singing the Anmanty song which is sung during the public stages of the young men’s initiation ceremonies.


Following the making of the shields, men performed the associated ceremonial dance that goes with it.

Anmatyerr Men Sing 'Anmanty'

Songs, Designs and Ceremonies Recorded so far…

  • Atetherr Arrangkey-kenh, Budgerigar for Arrangkey (Ngal/Mpetyan Country)
  • Kwaty Ngalwerrty-kenh, Rain travelling through Ngalwerrty (Mt. Wedge) (Ngal/Mpetyan Country)
  • Rltwamp Rwelerrlwengeny-kenh, Sugar-bag from Rwelerrlwengeny (Kemarr/Pwerrerl Country)
  • Artety Artetye-lherel to Altywep Kerrertek, Mulga Tree travelling through Artety-lherel (Ngwarray/Peltharr Country)
  • Yerramp Ulem-kenh, Honey-ant from Ulem  (Penangk/Pengart Country)
  • Tyap atwerneng Watunguru-kenh, Flying Ant at Watunguru (Ngal/Mpetyan Country)
  • Aherr Ngarnka-kenh, Red Kangaroo from Ngarnka (Peltharr/Ngwarray Country)
  • Rrwamperr Yakwertey-kenh, Brushtail Possum at Yakwertey (Peltharr/Ngwarray Country)
  • Ngwerrperl-ngwerrperl Alperrekenh-areny, Hooded Robin travelling between Irrwelty and Ulem (Peltharr/Ngwarray, Pengank/Pengart Countries)
  • Artety Angenty-kenh, Mulga travelling from Mer Angenty (Pengart/Penangk Country)
  • Artety Artety-lherel-kenh, Mulga at Artety-lherel (Ngwarray-Peltharr Country)
  • Arlweng-rlpwerr Ankwerewenng, Spangled Perch from Ankwerwenng (Ngwarray-Peltharr Country)
  • Akwet-Akwet Artekerr-kenh, Spotted nightjar from Artekarr (Ngal/Mpetyan Country)
  • Ahakey Ntwerrey-kenh, Native Currant travelling through Nthwerrey-Pwerray (Ngal/Mpetyan Country)
  • Althart Rrwamper, Brushtail Possum Dance (Ngwarray/Peltharr Country)
  • Aherr Anartelh-kenh, Red Kangaroo from Anartelh (Ngwarray/Peltharr Country)
  • Rltwamp Mer Anger Kwaty, Sugar bag at Anger Kwaty (Ngla/Mpetyan Country).
  • Arengk Arrangkey-kenh, the dogs of Arrangkey (Nhal/Mpetyan Country).

Song and Story Transcription

Recordings of Anmatyerr songs, as well as interviews with elders about shield designs and their stories, are now being transcribed and translated by the team with help from Arrernte men Franky Gorey and Joel Liddle. Direct transcriptions are made in Anmatyerr and where possible English translations are produced by Martin and community language experts. 


The project thanks the Strehlow Research Centre (Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory) for their help in enabling this important work.

The recordings made of these recordings are now being transcribed and translated by the team, with support from Arrernte staff at the Strehlow Research Centre in Alice Springs.

Michael Tommy, an important Anmatyerr singer.
Franky Gorey and Martin Hagan transcribe and translate interviews and song texts.


Public Dances
Althart, performances where men sing and dance, are an endangered form of community entertainment.