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Aboriginal people of South Australia: Kokatha

South Australian Aboriginal people and languages

Kokatha language materials

Mobile Language Team. Kokatha.

Black, JM. Vocabularies of four South Australian languages : Adelaide, Narrunga, Kukata, and Narrinyeri..., 1920.

Coleman, Dylan. Mazin' Grace, 2012. Work of fiction, incorporating the Kokatha language.

Hoff, ABC. The Hoff vocabularies of indigenous languages from the far west coast of South Australia, 2004. 

Monaghan, Paul. ‘Authenticity, ideology and early ethnography - untangling far west coast  Gugada [Kokatha]’ in Warra wiltaniappendi = Strengthening languages : proceedings of the inaugural Indigenous Languages Conference (ILC) 2007, 2008

Platt, John T. ‘The Kukata - Kukatja distinction’ in Oceania, vol. 38, no. 1, 1967.

Platt, John T. An outline grammar of the Gugada dialect, South Australia, 1972.


Getting started

This guide to sources relating to the Kokatha people was last updated in 2018. It comprises selected material held by the State Library or available online.
To find further material relevant to this topic, try searching with these subject headings in the State Library catalogue:
  • Kokatha (Australian people)
Or conduct a keyword search using the following term:
  • Kokatha
For more assistance, talk with staff at the Library's Information Desk or Ask Us.

Background and Resources

Kokatha country [Kookatha, Kokata, Gugada] covers a large area in the west of the state of South Australia, including the land around the Olympic Dam Project at Roxby Downs. It lies south of the Yankunytjatjara, Antakirinja and Arabana languages, west of the Barngarla language and north of the Wirangu language. Today many Kokatha people live in Port Augusta and the Far North.

Comprehensive sources

Anderson, Sue. Koonibba Mission, South Australia : aboriginal historic site recording…, 1998.

Brock, Peggy. Outback ghettos : Aborigines, institutionalisation and survival, 1993. 

Burgoyne, Iris. Mirning : we are the whales : a Mirning-Kokatha woman recounts life before and after dispossession, 2000. Interviews conducted in preparation for the writing of this book are available on CD.

Eckermann, CV. Koonibba : the Mission and the Nunga people, 2010.

Lucas, Rodney. Traces of the moon, aboriginal sites in the vicinity of proposed petrochemical developments at Point Lowly…., 1991.

Wilson, Neva. Our identity is our history and our future, 2003.

White, Melissa. Prioritising rock-holes of Aboriginal and ecological significance in the Gawler Ranges, 2008.

The following items contain sensitive information and have restrictions placed on them. Enquire with staff to arrange access.

Fitzpatrick, Philip, Wood, Vivienne and Westall, Craig. Aboriginal heritage survey : Gawler Ranges to Lake Torrens, 2000. Produced in association with the Barngarla Aboriginal Consultative Council and the Kokatha People's Committee.

Westell, Craig, Fitzpatrick, Philip and Wood, Vivienne. Gawler Ranges archaeological survey, 1999. Produced in association with the Barngarla Aboriginal Consultative Council and the Kokatha People's Committee.

Some relevant content

Beckett, Jeremy (ed). Past and present : the construction of Aboriginality, 1988.

Ellis, Catherine J. Aboriginal songs of South Australia, 1966.

Mathews, RH. Divisions of the South Australian aborigines, 1900.

Pring, Adele (ed). Women of the Centre, 1990. ‘Audrey Kinnear’ (pp. 47-66), ‘Lorna Graham’ (pp. 67-87) and ‘Eva Strangways’ (pp. 129-138).

Sturt's Desert Pea

B 71733 taken by Jen Garnett.

Photographs can be viewed online by searching the Library catalogue.

Periodical articles

To locate journal articles, access the State Library's eResources.

Selected South Australian newspapers, published prior to 1955, have been digitised as part of the National Library of Australia’s Trove website.

Further newspaper articles may be identified by using the following, Newspaper index : references to Aborigines in Adelaide newspapers, 1836-1940, 1989.

Irati Wanti: the poison leave it

Irati Wanti was the campaign run between 1998 and 2004 by the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta - the senior Aboriginal women of Coober Pedy - against a proposed nuclear waste dump on their country.

“We are Aboriginal Women — Yankunytjatjara, Antikarinya and Kokatha. We know the country. We know the stories for the land. We are worrying for the country and we’re worrying for our kids. We say, ‘No radioactive dump in our ngura — in our country’.”

Irati wanti: the poison leave it (website, archived via Pandora)

Irati-wanti : the poison leave it, 2002. (film)

Talking straight out : stories from the Irati Wanti Campaign, 2005. (book)