The Dreaming

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Chicken Hawk Succeeds in Stealing Fire

Kirrkirr - Chicken Hawk by Jimmy Pike

"Kirrkirr—Chicken Hawk"
by Jimmy Pike

Little Chicken Hawk (Djungarabaja), Big Hawk (Bugaidjma), and Dingo (Mojin) were camping together on a high hill at Dolg in Mdngala and Maranunggu country. Dingo went out and collected sour yams and sweet yams. Returning, he said, "Brother, break a special stick for making fire. We'll twirl it to make fire to cook this food." Dingo twirled it but broke it, tried another and broke it. He couldn't get it right. "Better I should go out and get a live fire stick so we can have a good fire."

He went off to a camp and hid behind a pandanus tree. A lot of women had been out collecting yams and bush tucker, and now they came back to the camp with them. They made a fire, preparing an oven and arranging the stones for baking. When the wood had burnt down they brushed aside the burnt-out pieces, leaving the glowing coals. Dingo jumped forward to take a fire stick; but the women saw him and chased him away, saying, "There's no fire for you." He returned home and told the others, "It's no good, I'm too big, they all saw me."

"Try again," they demanded. He went back to the women's camp and hid behind the pandanus again. As before, the women returned from food collecting and began to make an oven. Dingo tried again to get fire, but again they drove him away. He returned to the others. "No, I'm too big. They always see me." Dingo's hands were sore from twirling the fire sticks, so he said, "You go, Djungarabaja!"

So Little Chicken Hawk went to the women's camp and hid behind the pandanus. The women returned from the bush, as before, and began to prepare an oven. But this time they looked around for Dingo, and, knowing that he lived with Big Hawk Bugaidjma, they looked for him, too. The presence of Djungarabaja escaped them; he was small. Satisfied, they continued with their oven making; they scraped out the wood and placed the large glowing logs to one side.

As soon as they did this Djungarabaja swooped down and took up a piece of glowing wood, crying out, "Diid...Diid!" The women rushed forward, but he flew off with it. As he went he dropped some charcoal, broken by his beak as he held the fire stick; today there are charcoal patches stretching from Birangma toward Djungarabaja Hill (almost parallel to the Dilg Hills).

Back in camp he found that Dingo, impatient at waiting, had eaten his yams uncooked. "Ah," Djungarabaja scolded, "you have eaten them raw, and here I've brought fire!" That is why the Dingo doesn't talk, as chicken hawks do, and eats his food raw: he could not wait. But those three still remain at that place, dreaming; at Djungarabaja, named after Little Chicken Hawk.

from RM Berndt and CH Berndt
The World of the First Australians: Aboriginal Traditional Life : Past and Present


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