The term Ali Curung (Alekarenge) is Kaiditch (Kaytetye) meaning country of the dog, dog area or dog dreaming. It refers to an area of land visited by ancestral dogs during their travels around the country.
Two culturally significant dog dreaming sites are located within six kilometres of the Ali Curung community.
“The dogs here at Ali Curung are very important. They are connected to the ancestors. The ancestor dogs travelled this way in the spirit times, in dream times and they left behind the marks of where they went…
Some dogs have special powers, some can talk and some can predict things like when some one will die. Dogs are important in ceremonies. The dogs here are not to be hurt or harmed in any way. They cannot be put down however old or sick they get. Dogs have to lead their own natural life without interference from any one.” -- Lionel James, Community Vice President, October 2002.
In the Beginning
Ali Curung was originally established on Kaiditch land in 1956 as “Warrabri Settlement”. The first groups to arrive in the settlement were the Warlpirri and Warumungu.
After the 1928 Coniston massacre, most of the Warlpirri people fled their country never to return. They mainly settled around Phillip Creek and Banka Banka Station about 100km north of Tennant Creek. From here they were eventually trucked, or simply walked, to the new settlement of Warrabri.
An uneasy peace in the new settlement was negotiated between language groups with the help of Kumantjai Jabaljari. He died in his nineties in 2002 but could remember the events surrounding the Massacre. He was with the groups fleeing their country and recalled walking through the Tennant Creek area before white people arrived. Tennant Creek was established in the 1930's.
The population then was around 1200 and Warrabri became Ali Curung in 1978 when the administration duties were transferred from the Australian Government to the Ali Curung Community Council.
Today, the community consists of mainly four language groups, the Warlpiri, Warumungu, Kaiditch and Alyawarra and the population of Ali Curung is around 450. The drop in population is attributed to changes in Government Policy that now allows people free movement in the country and encouraged some to return to their home lands.