Indigenous Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Cooper, Tjikana (c. 1909–1971)

by Kath Apma Penangke

This entry is from People Australia

Tjikana (Tjikarna) Cooper (c. 1909–1971), Luridja (Luritja) woman and domestic servant, was born on Arrente Country in Central Australia in around 1909. In mid-1920 she was taken from her home at Ntaria (Hermannsburg mission) by the anthropologist, geologist, and medical practitioner Herbert Basedow as a companion for Apma Undelya, an eleven-year-old Arrente girl he had kidnapped from her family. Cooper and Undelya were taken to Basedow’s home at Kent Town Adelaide where they worked as domestic servants. Golden haired as a child, Cooper grew into a ‘tall and dignified’ woman whose stitchery was reportedly ‘exquisite’ (Mail, 1933, p 2). When Basedow died in 1933, she and Undelya were given to his three unmarried sisters, Blanca (d. 1936), Elsa (d. 1946), and Hedwig (d. 1963). In the late 1930s Cooper gave birth to a daughter, whom she named Elsa, presumably after the middle Basedow sister, but the child was sent to live at Colebrook Home. Cooper died on 20 August 1971 at Kent Town, Adelaide, and was buried in West Terrace cemetery.

‘Black Girls Mourn Benefactor’, Mail (Adelaide), 10 June 1933, p 2

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Kath Apma Penangke, 'Cooper, Tjikana (c. 1909–1971)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 26 July 2021.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012