Dean Oliver

Dean Oliver

My name is Dean Henry Oliver.
I’m 46, and I have 5 children, 4 girls and 1 boy. 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 and our community is also known as Santa Teresa. It’s 80kms southeast of Alice Springs.
I was born in Alice Springs and raised in Ltyentye Apurte, Santa Teresa. I went to school here in Ltyentye Apurte. At school we were taught how to do this craft work. Once a week. I used to see my uncles doing all these sorts of things and they would take me out for a day trip to the bush. I used to really enjoy watching them make things. They used to have big piles of chips and sawdust in a big mess under the shady tree.
When I was 10 y.o. I used to want to ask my grandfather “can you make a spear for me?” because at that age I wanted to own a spear and I thought “one day I’m gonna do that.”
That was way back. Then, when we started TCC, all those things that I made in school clicked back like it was yesterday but I hadn’t done anything in all this time. I used to watch the older people doing it, and then when I started TCC it was like I was doing it with them.
Starting TCC feels good. Like we’re trying to get these traditional tools back. A lot of the old people are gone and a lot of the tools are gone with them. So I want to keep it alive, you know. A long time ago I used to see the old people walking around with a shield and a woomera, boomerang. They loved those things. It’s like if you buy a new torch then you love that new torch, you know? That’s how they were for their tools.
I would like to make TCC bigger. Not only for us but for everyone. These are the tools that our mob used to have. The community wants us to keep going. Some of my relatives from another community, when they come up, we show them what we’re doing and they say “that’s good! Keep the things alive otherwise they’ll get forgotten.”
When the kids come up from the school it makes me feel like a powerful man. Teaching them how to use the tools correctly. My son is one of the students that comes here weekly. He’s 15. He likes to do the kind of stuff we’re doing here. Sometimes when he’s here he might put one of his finished tools in where I put my finished tools and I’ll be surprised by what he’s done. It makes me proud as a father. More than proud.
My family feel happy and proud. We went out bush, got some trees and I made some clapsticks and my partner dot-painted them. Nearly every day my little one-year old walks around making a big noise with them. It makes me more than happy, more than proud.
This work, I’m really enjoying it. We sit around and share a lot of jokes and laughs, but I’m not doing it just for fun. It’s in me.
Thank you for supporting our local business. I am happy to know you now have a little bit of our culture with you. This helps us keep our culture alive and I am proud to be sharing it with others.