Wangkatha Stories, by the late Kathleen Trimmer (Kalgoorlie, Western Australia)
This is the second of a series of articles on Indigenous languages which will be published on the internet and in the FATSIL Newsletter Voice of the Land.
Kalgoorlie region, Western Australia
Keeping our language and culture alive in the Goldfields
Gabi Gariguria "the place of the silky wild pear" is the original name for the city of Kalgoorlie.
Over the 1000 kilometre stretch from Coolgardie to the Western Desert there are nearly 800 Wangkatha people for whom English is the second language to their own. This is spoken in three dialects, Wangkatha, Ngaanyatjarra and Wangkatja. As in most other parts of Australia, the culture of the goldfields region suffered the effects of the mission years, when children were punished for speaking in their own language. The result here is that fluency is found amongst Elders and children, with the noticeable loss being for the 20-45 year olds. (There were four missions in the Western Desert alone.)
The determination of these people to maintain their culture is reflected in the work generated from the Wangkanyi Ngurra Tjurta Language centre. Language and cultural awareness courses have been taken to a total of eleven Primary and Secondary schools, as well as Kalgoorlie college and the local Regional Hospital.
Staff at the centre consist of coordinator Sharon Hume, receptionist Patricia McGillibray, Language workers, Anthony Adams and Calista Parfitt, and Linguist Kathleen Trimmer, a vocal ambassador for the preservation of her culture. Says Kathy:
Language is like a child to you. It has come from your bloodline, through your mother and you to your children. We have to look after our own language and culture although the Government is putting more emphasis on foreign languages.
The centre is continuing to compile dictionaries, collect stories and songs, translate and interpret, conduct workshops and educate local community and business people. They are developing a range of lessons in cultural education including the traditional symbols of Aboriginal art and sign language.
See below for contact information
by Kathleen Trimmer
Please note: Kathleen Trimmer passed away in January 1999.
These stories written by Kathleen Trimmer are also appearing in Moorditj, a multimedia CD-ROM on Australian Indigenous artists and their cultural expressions.
The Crow in a Tree
Papalu kaarnka nyangu wartangka.
Kaarnkalu kuka tjaangka kanyirnu.
Papalu watjarnu, "Kaarnka!" Walykumunun.
Wangka nyuntuku walykumunu mularrpa.
Kaarnka karnany-karnanyarringu. Palunyalu tjaa yarlanyangka, kuka punkarnu.
Papa yikarringkula kuka ngalangu ngurrakutu yany.
Kaarnka tjuni walykurringu, purtu kulirnu, wantingu.
A dog saw a crow on a tree.
The crow had a bit of meat in its mouth.
The dog said "Crow you are good."
You really speak the truth.
The crow got bold, opened his mouth wide -
the meat fell out.
The dog laughed and ate the meat and ran off home.
The crow was left hungry and bewildered.
Tjitarti (Bird on a Tree)
Tjitarti wartangka nyinantu. Nyangka tjitjilu.
Tjitjilu tjitjarti paarnu ngalangu.
Nyaarrul Tjitarti wiyarnu.
The bird sat on a tree.
A child saw the bird and threw a stone,
Hit and killed the bird.
The child then cooked and ate it.
Poor bird was no more.
For further information about the Wangkatha language contact:
Wangkarryl Ngurra Tjurta
PO Box 1470
Kalgoorlie WA 6430
ph. 090 914705
fax. 090 914704