My name is Clinton Mpetyane Oliver. I’m 37 (I think), and I am a proud Arrernte man from Ltyentye Apurte and one of the founders of the Ltyentye Apurte Traditional Craft Centre. In English, Ltyentye Apurte sounds like Ginger Porter. Our community is also known as Santa Teresa. It’s 80kms southeast of Alice Springs.
I was born in Alice and grew up all my life here in Santa Teresa and went to senior school in Darwin at St John’s College. After that I came back here and played footy.
Before TCC I was working at the men’s shed and catholic care. I didn’t really know anything about doing craft and bush tools until my big brother, Dean, showed me some stuff. That’s how I started and then I got the hang of it and the more I keep on doing it I get better and better. It’s pretty good that I’m working for TCC otherwise I’d still be working over there (on CDP). It’s changed my life.
I think everybody looks up to us now that we have jobs. We can support our families and also we are doing something good for our community. They bring the school kids up to us once a week. Back in my school days we would learn crafts from the old people but only about once a year. I see the kids sitting down at a computer and sitting on their phones, not going out bush. I think ‘will they ever go out with their old people and learn out bush?’ But then them kids started coming around to learn from us to make woomeras and shields and boomerangs. I see the schoolkids changing because they are pretty excited to come here on Thursdays and work with us. I heard my little nephew saying they “can’t wait to go up to the craft centre”.
When I’m making a piece I think about how the old people did it. They just used a file or an axe. They’ve been through harder times. They were pretty healthy and tough people and they could stand the heat. Hard work, hot days. Strong people. Not like us nowadays! Haha! We’ve got coolers and air conditioners when we go back home but the old people are strong people. I still look up to them. I’m getting knowledge from them still. I really look up to my dad and his brothers before him. And a lot of the other old people around the community.
I try to spend my time off resting and visiting family. That’s the main thing, still to be connected with your family. Cause that’s important. Around here you have to visit families. You don’t want to forget them because of your work.
Thank you for buying this piece. It’s made by a pretty good bloke! Made by an Arrernte man. It’s important to share the work that we’ve been doing. We need to show what we’ve been doing to the world, what we’re about, us indigenous people. Showing our work off makes me feel proud. Proud to be aboriginal, proud to have culture, proud to have these skills, and to support this community. I’m proud of doing our traditional crafts.