The Mara people have the following tradition with regard to the first making of fire. In the Alcheringa there was a Kakan or eagle-hawk man who discovered how to make fire by rubbing two sticks on one another. He was a black Kakan, and belonged to the Murungun class. He wanted to keep the fire for the Murungun and Mumbali people, and not allow the Purdal and Quial to have any, but a white Kakan came along and objected to his being so greedy. The two had a long discussion, and finally the white Kakan took a fire-stick and gave it to the Purdal and Quial men, though the black Kakan covered the fire over with his wings and tried to prevent him from getting any.

Close by where the two hawks were disputing there was a big pine-tree which was so tall that its top reached right up into the sky. Up and down this the people used to climb. The hawk, unfortunately, set the grass on fire, and the pine-tree was burnt, so that the people, who happened to be up in the sky at that particular time, could not get down, and have remained there ever since. The fire spread as far north as what is now called the Roper River, where the white hawk threw his fire-stick away to Mungatjarra. The black hawk stayed behind, and died on the spot at which he first made fire.



  • Spencer, Sir Baldwin. (1904). Northern Tribes of Central Australia. London: Macmillan, pp. 621-2, 629.

This article incorporates text from Northern Tribes of Central Australia (1904) by Sir Baldwin Spencer, which is in the public domain.