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The Kokatha, also known as the Kokatha Mula,[a] are an indigenous Australian people of the state of South Australia. They speak the Kokatha language, close to or a dialect of the Western Desert language.


Traditional Kokatha lands extended over some 54,000 square miles (140,000 km2) according to the estimation of Norman Tindale, stretching over some of the harshest, waterless land on the Australian continent. It took in Tarcoola, Kingoonyah, Pimba and the McDouall Peak. Their western extension went as far as Ooldea and the Ooldea Range while the northern frontier ran up to the Stuart Range and Lake Phillipson. Their boundary with the Barngarla was marked by an ecological transition from their plateau to the lower hilly acacia scrubland and salt lake zones running south to the coast.[3]

The tribes bordering on Kokatha lands were, running north clockwise, the Pitjantjara, the Yankuntjatjarra, the Antakirinja, the Arabana and Kuyani to their east, the Barngarla on the southeastern flank, the Wirangu directly south, the Mirning southwest, and the Ngalia to their west.[4]

History of contact

The Kokatha were engaged in migration towards to southeast before the 1850s, when whites began to make their presence felt. Their hold on Ooldea area was relinquished around 1917 when they yielded before the pressure from the northern Yankuntjatjarra migrating there.[3]

Alternative names

  • Koranta
  • Kukatha, Kukata, Kokata
  • Cocotah, Kookata, Cookutta, Kookatha
  • Koogatho, Kugurda,Koogurda, Koocatho
  • Kotit-ta
  • Kukataja
  • Gogada
  • Gugada
  • Kokatja. (Yankuntjatjarra pronunciation)
  • Maduwonga. (Arabana, also Jangkundjara exonym)
  • Madutara. (Antakirinja exonym)
  • Keibara. ( "plain turkeys"— pejorative)
  • Geebera
  • Nganitjiddia, Nganitjidi, Nganitjini. (Nauo and Barngarla exonym meaning "those who sneak and kill by night.")
  • Kakarrura. (as karkurera ="east") applied to a band west of Lake Torrens).
  • Yallingarra (cf. alindjara ="east").
  • Gawler Range tribe.[3]

Notable people


  1. ^ The variation between these ethnonyms, Kukata/Kokata and Kokatha, may represent an original difference between two distinct Western desert dialects, one retaining a voiceless alveolar stop (t), the other a dental stop (th)[1][2]


  1. ^ Platt 1972, pp. 3–4.
  2. ^ Clendon 2015, p. 27.
  3. ^ a b c Tindale 1974, p. 213.
  4. ^ MapASA.
  5. ^ Ralph 2010.


  • "Aboriginal South Australia". Government of South Australia.
  • "AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia". AIATSIS.
  • Bates, Daisy (1918). "Aborigines of the West Coast of South Australia; vocabularies and ethnological notes". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia. 42: 152–167.
  • Black, J. M. (1920). "Vocabularies of four South Australian languages, Adelaide, Narrunga, Kukata, and Narrinyeri, with special reference to their speech sounds". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia. 44: 76–93.
  • Clendon, Mark (2015). Clamor Schürmann's Barngarla grammar: A commentary on the first section of A vocabulary of the Parnkalla language. University of Adelaide Press. ISBN 978-1-925-26111-0.
  • Condon, H. T. (July 1955). "Aboriginal bird names -South Australia Part 1" (PDF). South Australian Ornithologist. Adelaide. 21 (6/7): 74–88.
  • Eylmann, Erhard (1908). Die Eingeborenen der Kolonie Südaustralien (PDF). Berlin: D.Reimer.
  • Howitt, Alfred William (1904). The native tribes of south-east Australia (PDF). Macmillan.
  • Jones, F. W.; Campbell, T. D. (1924). "Anthropometric and descriptive observations on some South Australian aborigines". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia. 48: 303–312.
  • Mathews, R. H. (January 1900). "Divisions of the South Australian Aborigines". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 39 (161): 78–91+93. JSTOR 983545.
  • Mathews, R. H. (October–December 1900). "The Origin, Organization and Ceremonies of the Australian Aborigines". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 39 (164): 556–578. JSTOR 983776.
  • Platt, John Talbot (1972). An Outline Grammar of the Gugada Dialect: South Australia. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
  • Ralph, Jon (3 June 2010). "Indigenous superman Gavin Wanganeen blazed a trail". Herald Sun. Melbourne.
  • Tindale, Norman Barnett (1974). "Kokata (SA)". Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. Australian National University Press. ISBN 978-0-708-10741-6.
  • Wilhelmi, Charles (1860). "Manners and customs of the Australian natives, in particular of the Port Lincoln district". Transactions of the Royal Society of Victoria. 5: 164–203. ISBN 978-0-708-10741-6.
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