Study to capture trickster phenomenon

19-Oct-2017

Dr Curtis Roman says Indigenous people report the presence of “little people” on the beach between Rapid Creek and Casuarina. Photo: Julianne Osborne

Dr Curtis Roman says Indigenous people report the presence of “little people” on the beach between Rapid Creek and Casuarina. Photo: Julianne Osborne


A Charles Darwin University researcher is appealing for Darwin residents who have experienced the sudden appearance of mischievous “little people” to share their stories, as part of a study to explore an integral part of Indigenous culture.

Dr Curtis Roman said experiences with the tricksters were not necessarily ceremonial or sacred, and had existed for generations among Indigenous families from various backgrounds across Australia.

“I’ve heard people talk about little people since I was a kid growing up in Darwin,” he 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 said he hoped to collect stories from Indigenous people living in Darwin who have experienced little people anywhere in Australia to investigate consistencies in people’s beliefs, along with the reported behaviour and appearance of little people.

“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.” 

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.

To share a story, please contact Dr Curtis Roman on P: 8946 6067 or E: curtis.roman@cdu.edu.au