The Areyonga Native Settlement was established in the 1920s by Pitjanjatjara people from the Petermann Ranges. In 1943 the government opened a ration depot at the site. From that time Lutheran missionaries from Hermannsburg provided welfare services. In 1950 they opened a school and began to reside at the settlement. In 1990 the land at Areyonga, renamed Utju, was handed over to Aboriginal community control.
The Areyonga Native Settlement was first established during the 1920s when drought forced Pitjanjatjara people from the Petermann area to move to Hermannsburg and then to Areyonga. In 1943 the government opened a ration depot at the settlement. From that time as part of an agreement with the government, missionaries from the Lutheran Mission at Hermannsburg, also known as Finke River Mission, were subsidised to provide welfare services at the settlement. They erected a number of permanent and temporary buildings at the settlement, both for mission staff and Aboriginal people. In 1949, 360 were reported to be living at the settlement.
A school was opened at the settlement in March 1950 with the superintendent's wife as teacher. That year 50 children were attending the school. In 1952 a new pre-fabricated school building was placed at the settlement. By 1953, 85 children were enrolled. No dormitories for children were developed and children continued to live with their families.
During this era, Areyonga became an outpost of the Hermannsburg Mission and along with Haast's Bluff Native Settlement, the three were often referred to collectively as the Finke River Mission.
In the 1970s many people from Areyonga moved back to the Pitjantjatjara community at Docker River. The Lutheran Church remained in control of the Areyonga settlement until 1990 when the land was handed over to Aboriginal community control as part of the Haasts Bluff Aboriginal Land Trust.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Northern Territory: Protectors /Administration / Welfare Branch reports', in To remove and protect: laws that changed Aboriginal lives, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 2010, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/remove-and-protect/northern-territory; Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) Community Profile - Areyonga, 1 edn, Remote Area Health Corps, Canberra, 2010, http://www.rahc.com.au/sites/default/files/documents/community_profiles/Areyonga%20Community%20Profile.pdf; A431, 1950/1020, Lutheran Missions - The Finke River Mission (1) Hermannsburg (2) Haasts Bluff (3) Areyonga. Part 2, 1935 - 1953; Northern Territory Administration Report 1949-53.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 7 February 2011, Last modified: 25 September 2014