Kaapa was born on Napperby Station c.1925. He was initiated at Napperby, and subsequently worked there as a stockman. While still in his younger days, he moved to Haasts Bluff, doing stock work at the government cattle station. Kaapa was amongst the 400 people brought across at the start of the ’60s when Papunya settlement was established. An elder of the region, Kaapa’s tribal affiliation was Anmatyerre/Warlpiri/Aranda (the name 'Mbitjana’ is an Arrente skin name corresponding to Tjampitjinpa in the Western Desert system of skin names). His father, born at Warlukurlangu west of Yuendumu, was of mixed Anmatyerre/Warlpiri descent. His mother, who was born at Napperby was Anmatyerre/Aranda. One of Kaapa’s key sites was Mikantji, a rainmaking place near Mt Denison. Other Dreamings which he painted included Owl, Shield, Witchetty Grub, Pelican, Snake (connected with rainmaking rituals), Black Goanna, Emu and Yam. Kaapa had been involved with the inception of the painting movement. His acknowledged mastery of brush technique led to his selection by the other men to paint the mural on the Papunya school wall. As Geoffrey Bardon noted in his account of these events, 'Kaapa Tjampitjinpa had been a most enterprising and independent artist in the traditional manner before my arrival at Papunya.’ (G. Bardon, Aboriginal Art of the Western Desert , {Rigby, 1979}). In August 1971 Kaapa shared first prize in the Alice Springs Caltex Golden Jubilee Art Award and when Papunya Tula Artists was formally incorporated, Kaapa was its inaugural Chairman.

Johnson, Vivien Note: primary biographer
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