Kaath-kunch ngathar.am Baressa Frazer PDF Print E-mail
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Aiyung namp ngathar.am in Baressa Frazer - Hello my name is Baressa Frazer. I am a Puuch Clan women from the Wik country of Aurukun, Western Cape York. My mother who passed away in 2003, was a traditional owner of Aurukun and my father is a non-Indigenous man whose family migrated to Australia from England and the old Prussia now known as Germany. I have one maternal (mother’s side) brother who lives and works in Weipa. Paternally (father’s side), I have one bother and three sisters. Ngay puk many thonam nil ngamp Koby – I have one son his name is Koby.

I am passionate about my culture and all those things which encompass culture. I feel it is my right to help build stronger foundations for language maintenance. The loss of language can be seen as a loss of whole cultures and knowledge systems, including oral literary and medicinal, musical and artistic practices. When Human Rights come into the picture, the loss of language is seen as a part of the oppression and deprivation of Indigenous people from past policies. We are involuntarily losing our land and traditional livelihood as the forces of national and international politics encroach on our world.

My father cared for me as a single parent and I have great admiration for him. As I grew up with my father, I speak Standard Australian English as my first language but with the help of my loving cousin sisters Rhonda and Amanda, I can know speak Wik Mungkan. I have since taught myself to read and write Wik Mungkan. Although I lived with my father in Kuranda in far north Queensland I often went home to Aurukun for the holidays. I loved this time. As an only child, being with my cousins was great fun. At night my big cousins would yarn ghost stories in Wik Mungkan and this is when I first remembered understanding my language. I enjoyed our trips out hunting, although I would starve myself because I hated the alien taste of bush food like, minh nga (roasted fish), and minh puuy (mud crab).

Luckily my Muma Ali made the best ashes damper (damper cooked on the coals), so I mostly ate damper and syrup, and then quenched my thirst with strong, sweet, black billy tea. My son, who is now 11 years old, was donned the name “Casper” (after the cartoon character Casper the White ghost) by his Mooki (uncle). His skin was so fair, and just like me he didn’t fancy bush food, but now he is a keen hunter and loves his minh nga and minh pangk (wallaby). He too enjoys every minute he spends on the land with his family.

When I was a puk-wanch (young girl) at high school I had a hard time with schoolwork, and really struggled with my identity. I dropped out when I was 15 years old and studied to be a Community Ranger at TAFE (I love being on my country), and after that moved back to Aurukun to work as a Ranger. I remained there until I became pregnant when I was 17 years old. Ever since my son was born I have realised the importance of education and culture. It was then that I began my journey to follow in the footsteps of my mother and become a teacher.

Kaath-kunch ngathar.am Baressa Frazer
Me and my mum in 1977
Today I am a primary school teacher and foresee that Wik Mungkan would be taught in school again and integrated into the curriculum. Language is a strong part of our identity and our connection to the country; it is the Kaath-kunch ngathar.am Baressa Frazer community’s most valuable resource. I am not a linguist, but as a teacher I know how important it is to help our children to be two-way strong. I want to be part of a process that is helping children to be strong in their home language, Wik Mungkan, and at the same time strong in Standard Australian English. I also realise that our people have other languages such as Wik Ngathan, Wik Alkan, Wik Keyangan, and many others. These languages are mostly spoken by our Elders, and it is important to acknowledge them and make sure that these sacred words are maintained for the future.

I am currently undertaking a project that involves researching, recording and writing a range of traditional stories into bilingual books. Hopefully in the future these books will be used as school resources. The books would also include a variety of teacher resources to help teachers effectively implement these stories and materials in the classroom.

My inspiration comes from my mother who was a bilingual teacher. She helped write story books and resources for the bilingual program which was running in Auruku during the 1980’s. My big muma (my mother’s big sister) also gives me inspiration. She raised her siblings, her children and her sibling’s children, and managed to be the first Indigenous Chairwomen in Cape York. She worked tirelessly for the betterment of Aurukun.

Kaath-kunch ngathar.am Baressa Frazer
Black Cockatoo Headress
Here is an extract from one of the books i have been working on:

This is a swamp north of Aurukun.
Inan paamp an kungk Aurukun ana.

You can see lots of water lilies.
Nint may kooth yot thathin.

The brolga lives here.
Minh kor’ in wunan.

The swamp turtle lives here.
Minh punchiy in wunan.