Study to unearth Darwin’s ‘Little People’

Charles Darwin University's Dr Curtis Roman is studying the stories behind 'Little People' sightings.

Darwin residents who have experienced the sudden appearance of mischievous ‘Little People’ are being asked to share their stories as part of a study exploring an important part of Indigenous culture.

The study is being conducted by Larrakia man and Charles Darwin University researcher Curtis Roman who said experiences with the little tricksters were not necessarily ceremonial or sacred and had existed for generations among Indigenous families across Australia.

“I’ve heard people talk about Little People since I was a kid growing up in Darwin,” Dr Roman said.

“Some people I know are adamant they have seen them; their parents and grandparents, who are respected and well-credentialed people, also talk about these stories very seriously.”

Dr Roman, the head of CDU’s School of Indigenous Knowledges and Public Policy, said Little People were consistently described as strong, dark-skinned and ugly beings that stand about knee-high.

They are tricksters by nature and can be aggressive, and some people believe they appear as omens, he said.

Dr Roman said by collecting stories about Little People, he hoped to investigate consistencies in people’s beliefs.

“Some Indigenous people who come to town from out bush tell stories about having to move while sitting on the beach between Rapid Creek and Casuarina because Little People throw rocks at them,” he said.

“Some people believe that Little People are able to disappear into cracks in rocks and come out at night.

“The literature also refers to people in remote communities telling stories about battles between Little People and Indigenous people in the past.

“The people I have spoken to are of the firm view that Little People are real – to mention words such as folklore and mythology is underplaying the reality of Indigenous people’s beliefs,” he said.

“The stories I have been told show clearly that Indigenous people often avoid certain places to avoid contact with Little People out of fear. So it is very much a reality to them.”

To share a story, contact Dr Roman on curtis.roman@cdu.edu.au or (08) 8946 6067.

Wendy Caccetta

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