Kaurna Culture

The Kaurna people

Location:Cape Jervis to Port Wakefield along eastern shore of Gulf St. Vincent; inland to near Crystal Brook, Snowtown, Blyth, Hoyleton, Hamley Bridge, Clarendon, Gawler, and Myponga; from the east side of the Hummock Range to Red Hill where northern hordes were sometimes known as the Nantuwara. Inland the Jultiwira or stringy bark forests of the Mount Lofty Ranges marked their boundary. The Kaurna were the southernmost tribe to perform the initiatory rite of circumcision. Their territory was very correctly indicated as 2,800 square miles (7,200 sq. km.) with a population of 650 in the South Australian Register of 30 January 1842. Ivaritji, the last woman survivor, who died in 1931, provided much of our scanty knowledge of the Kaurna. A southern horde spoke a slight dialect at Rapid Bay. Tunkalilla Beach, 12 miles (20 km.) east of Cape Jervis, was given as the actual ['keinari] or boundary with the Ramindjeri. East (1889) incorrectly included the related Yorke Peninsula people, the Narangga, under his term Padnayndie. This is in the form Padnaindi, a hordal term for the folk living between Hamley Bridge and Crystal Brook. The Kaurna Warra region
Co-ordinates:138°30'E x 34°35'S
Area:2,800 sq. m. (7,200 sq. km)
References:J. Stephens, 1839; Williams, 1839; Teichelmann, 1840; Teichelmann and Schürmann, 1840; Gell, 1842; South Australian Register, 1842; Cawthorne, 1844 MS, 1926; Moorhouse, 1844; Schürmann, 1844; Eyre, 1845; Behr, 1848; Wyatt, 1879; Mueller, 1882; E. Stephens, 1889; East, 1889; McKinlay in Howitt, 1904; Howitt, 1904; Howchin and Gregory, 1909; Strehlow, 1910; Parkhouse, 1936; Tindale, 1931 MS, 1936, 1940; Tindale and Mountford, 1936; Berndt, 1940; Tindale and Lindsay, 1963.
Alternative Names:Kaura (misprint for Kaurna), Coorna, Koornawarra, Nantuwara ('Kangaroo speakers,' name given to northern hordes), Nantuwaru, Nganawara, Meljurna ('quarrelsome men,' said of northern hordes of Kaurna), Kurumidlanta (Pangkala term, lit. 'evil spirits'), Milipitingara (MS), Midlanta (another name given by Pangkala), Widninga (Ngadjuri term applied to Kaurna of Port Wakefield and Buckland Park), Winaini (horde north of Gawler), Winnay-nie, Meyu (['meju] = man), Wakanuwan (name applied by Jarildekald to this and some other tribes, including Ngaiawang), 'Adelaide tribe,' Warra (means 'speech' a name for language), Warrah, Karnuwarra ('hills language,' a northern dialect, presumably that of Port Wakefield), Jaitjawar:a ('our own language'), Padnaindi (horde name), Padnayndie, Medaindi (horde living near Glenelg), Medain-die, Merildekald (Tanganekald term also loosely given to Peramangk), Merelde (Ramindjeri term applied most frequently to the Peramangk but also to the Kaurna). A Kaurna woman in a possum coat feeding her child



Kaurna Warra
An interactive dictionary and language data base of the Kaurna language.

AusAnthrop: database on Aboriginal Australian tribes and languages. - Kaurna

Education Centres


Kaurna Plains Aboriginal School

Kaurna Plains School
Kaurna Plains School aims to concentrate on the development of cultural programs that emphasise the teaching of Aboriginal cultural values and structures. This form of teaching takes into account Aboriginal knowledge and beliefs. In this school's environment, Aboriginal children are the majority, which enables them to experience confidence and success.

First Nations Centre for Higher Education and Research

Kaurna Plains Aboriginal School
Kaurna Plains school opened in 1986 and is the only metropolitan Aboriginal school in Adelaide.

Cultural Organisations

Kaurna Culture Web Ring
An eclectic collection of various Kaurna sites on the internet dealing with all aspects of Kaurna culture.

Women & Politics in South Australia - The Aboriginal voice

Kaurna Higher Education Journal


This is an important biography dealing with the first marriage between a Kaurna woman and an English settler. The story of Kudnarto is a history of settler interaction with the Kaurna and the response of the Kaurna to settlers. Kudnarto is everyone's story.


Tindale's Catalogue of Australian Aboriginal Tribes - Kaurna (SA)

Kaurna Peoples Native Title Claim

Atlas of South Australia - ADELAIDE


Aboriginal Australia Links

The Kaurna People
The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry recognises with respect the traditional owners of the land upon which our Centre is built.

The Kaurna: The Port's indigenous people.
The Kaurna people of the Adelaide plains lived a dignified, affluent and contented lifestyle for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans in the late 18th century.

Australia: The language is not dead - it has been sleeping
Kaurna is one of the several hundreds of peoples who lived in Australia before the Englishmen came 200 years ago and colonized their country. In the 1820s came colonists and missionaries to the land of the Kaurna people. 30-40 years after colonists told about the Kaurna people that "this tribe has ceased to exist".

Warrabarna Kaurna! Reclaiming an Australian Language - Rob Amery
Warrabarna Kaurna! Reclaiming an Australian Language is a longitudinal study of the reclamation of the Kaurna Language, where Kaurna people are working in collaboration with linguists and educators. The book takes an ecological perspective to trace the history of Kaurna drawing on all known sources (mostly from the period 1836-1858) and all known emerging uses in the modern period (1989-1997).

With the arrival of European settlers and missionaries in the 1830s, the indigenous people of the Adelaide region, the KAURNA, were to lose their land, their hunting grounds, their sacred sites, their language. After one shortlived experiment at the Adelaide school, where Lutheran missionaries taught literacy in KUARNA, the language was forbidden and all but lost to the KAURNA people.

Search the database on Australian Aboriginal tribes and languages:

Bill Woerlee.

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