In 1997, a group of Warumungu students from Tennant Creek began a journey into the past, which would lead them to their own place in the historical map of their people. With stories from the old stock routes to life within the Aboriginal labour force on the cattle stations, where most members of the group spent their childhood, they tracked the shift in strength of their cultural identity, and recalled the reality of life as it was for people on the stations. Among the strengths that came from community life on the properties, were the freedom they maintained to continue with ceremonial life; the preservation of rules of kinship and marriage; and perhaps most importantly of all, retaining their language, as it would continue to be taught to the children growing up on the stations.
Sandra Nangali Morrison.
As the group worked on their oral history, they also recorded events in pictorial form, with a banner depicting the history from dreamtime to the present, and including a warning for the future, should the cultural heritage and values be lost.
The story of Warumungu Elder, Michael Jampin Jones, has been translated by his daughter, Susan Nangali Jones. In his poetry, Michael urges both young and old to take responsibility for their culture, and to ensure that language is not lost through apathy. The group members have prepared a number of other stories and poems, and these have been reproduced on the "Language of the Month" site on the internet.
| Wilya mukku wapparr parrkamarra
|| Keep your language strong.
|Michael .Jampin Jones. Alaparra anyul warlungku muntta marlungku ngini. Nyangirr karn anyul tarnta jurukultirri pika pikka? Paninya arni ngini nyanjarn nyayi pinangkarl akku, nyakarnti karnti-kki akkinyi kari Kampuju-karunjuka. Ala pinangkarl alaparra akku mukku parrkamanta arntunya akku jurrukulmunta ngini pulka pulkka-jja ngini, alaparra mangayiji ngini awunu warlungku tirrinta, jartingki pulka pulkka-jja ngini kajunjuna mukku ngini. Ngappa wanpina kajunta jina mangayi ngini, kamanta mukku ngini waga waga tirrinta karn. kamanta.
||When someone pass away Who's gonna train that young fella, or kid when he grows up? Well I think there could be someone who knows His father's ceremony and songs. That someone who knows, that one can straighten it out for that young fella. When his father pass away them other old people they cover those things up, even the songs, no-one not allowed to sing it. They wait for the rain, when the rain comes, covers this old man's tracks up, Then they can sing this song to the young bloke and even his father's dance.You've got someone there to help you, even if your father pass away. This is your ceremony, this is what belongs to you.
Students share Tennant Creek history.
Participants in the Warumungu studies at Batchelor College are students from the Warlmanpa,Wambaya and Waramungu language groups in the Tennant Creek area. They are enrolled in the Diploma of Arts (Language Studies) through the Centre for Australian Languages and Linguistics (CALL).
The course allows the students to work on their own language, undertaking projects which record the traditional knowledge of their elders, knowledge of plants and animals, the seasons, country, and the stories associated with the country.
Students learn to analyse and describe their language, assisting them in the areas of teaching, reading and writing, and in work on projects such as dictionaries.
Much of the focus is on producing resource materials for school-based language programs.
Last year the Tennant Creek students worked closely with the school at Rockhampton Downs station, conducting a joint Language and Culture workshop, and making several oral history videos, which drew on their experiences of life on the cattle station.
CALL students are encouraged to work with other community organisations, such as health clinics and language centres, linking their efforts at maintaining the language with other community-based initiatives and programs.
Detail of the historical banner which currently hangs at the Alice Springs Campus of Batchelor College.
Cross-cultural communication is another area in which students can make an important contribution to their communities. The course incorporates subject areas which enhance the students' ability to communicate and develop the technical skills required for language work.
The Diploma is a two year full-time course, with an optional third year, which awards the student an Advanced Diploma.
Some of the material recorded is for family members, private material to be handed down to their children. However, the students are also encouraged to publish their work in the community, so that the spirit and message of their work is known. The group members are encouraged to discuss issues which surround language recording, such as privacy and the control of recorded material. The work published here has been prepared as public information, to be shared with other members of the community.
For more information on the Diploma of Arts (Language Studies) ring CALL in Alice Springs on 8951 8300 or in Batchelor on 89379305.