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Yolgnu Balandi-watanumirr Joanne Garngulkpuy | Yolnu, Song, Nayi, Napurr, Yirritja, Nuli, Dhuwa, Stories | FATSILC, Fed. Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Languages and Culture
Yolgnu Balandi-watanumirr Joanne Garngulkpuy PDF Print E-mail

This is an extract from Yolnu Balandi-watanumirr 'Yolnu with Ancestral Connections’, by Joanne Gargulkpuy. It was taken from a research paper into Indigenous Governance being conducted by Yalu Margithinyaraw Research Group and the Centre for Indigenous Research and Education at Northern Territory University.


Yolnu buku-liw’maram dhuwal wananur gan mala-bunhaminl romnur, ga bukmak limurr nuthar marrtjin, ga marngithin marrtjin romgu limurrungalanaw.

|anapurrnydja dhuwal Yolnu Australiapuynydja malabarrkuwatjkinhawuy dhuwandja Northern Territory-nurnydja.

Napurrnydja Yolnuny nuthar ga marngithin marrtjin napurr dhawuw malanuw marranharaw bunguln ur, manikaynur, buku-lupnur, milkarriur ga dharrwa bulu.

Dhiyan nunhi dhawuy malanuy ga mel-lakaram djama mala, napurr dhu djama ral-gama diltjilil ga bala ran ilil.

Manymak. Yirritjay Yolgnu dhu manikay dar’=aryun, lakaram nayi dhu. Yolnu Wurarrnha nayi dhu ga nhama rani Djaltji, Watjpalala, Gawuna, ga Manurr nayi dhu norra, nunhiyiny dharrwa dhu matha-yal lakaram ga marram napurr dhu. |unha nayi dhu warryundja marrtji warrawuku ral-marrtji nayi dhu djulkumuw.

|unha baydhi nayi dhu rurran’thun gathulny’tja dharpaw godu maypalmirriw.

|uruniyi manikayyu nuli dhunupamirriyam Yolnuny djambatj ga ral-mirriyam nunhi nayi dhu larum matha-yal’wu yuwalkkum yan, miyalknhany yolnuny nuli walal lakaram ral-dumurrnha n unhi nayi dhu dharrwakumany maypalnydja.

Balanya nhakun na]diy walal n uli manikay miyaman ga lakaram walalanguwuy djambatj miyapunuw, yurr nurrununy walal nuli nathilmirriyam, rawu, ga lunarrinynha, ga ]aku walalan yakumirr mala Wuwarku, Bultjimarra, Daymirriny.

Miyamam walal dhu manikaynydja, dhunupayam marrtji walal dhu rom wiripuwal Yolnuwal, nhaltjan dhu miyapunuw marrtji.

Romdja manikaynydja walalan, na]dipuluw ga wakupuluw ga gurrkurrnydja djamany mala bukmakkaun Yolnuw.

Ga nhinany napurr ga dhuwal malany, Yirritja ga Dhuwa, ga dhiyan napurr ga malabunhamirrnydja. |unha wanay-narakay ga n ayatham mulmu, gu]da, warrakan, dharpa, munatha, gapu, malabarrkuwatjkunhawuy, diltjilil, ] inydjiyalil, baralalil, ranilil ga n unha djinawan gapunura, mala barrkuwatjkunhawuy Yirritjalil ga Dhuwalil, bili napurr nuli balyunmirrll nunhiwili malanulil. Yurr nunhiyin nunhi ralgurrupanamirrnydja djama nayi dhuwali yolnuy nhaltjan napurr dhu nhina maranhu-gama, ga gurrupanmirr.

Dhuwal napurr nuli dhawa=thundja gana, ga nuthandja napurr marrtji nuli Yolnuwal malanuwal. Birrka’yunaraw djamawnydja napurrun ga barrkuwatj malaw ga malaw.


Yolnu face-round this and were clangroup-creatingl inside the law, and we all grew up, and went learning law which belongs to us. We are Yolnu of Australia in various distinct groups here in the Northern Territory.

We Yolnu grew and became knowing we went getting stories from ceremony, song, cleansing ceremony, keening, and much else. These those different stories, reveal activities, we will implement and carry our ral to the bush and to the beach.

Good. Yirritja Yolnu will sing a song, he will tell: Yolgnu Wurrar he will be seeing the beach Djaltji, Watjpalala, Gawunu, ga Manurr it will be lying, that one will be telling many tongue-coolers, and we will get it.

There he will pull along a warrawuku paperbark raft ral-go he will for cockles. There alternatively he will search through the mangroves for a tree with mangrove worms.

That song will make straight djambatj Yolnu, and give him ral, if he should look for tongue-coolers truly only, of a woman they would say big- ral if she will make many the shellfish.

Like those mothers, they always sing a song and tell of their own djambatj turtle hunter, but first they will prepare the rope, and the harpoon and their canoes with names Wuwarku, Bultjimarra, Daymirri They will song a song, make straigh they will, the custom/law for other Yolnu, how they will go for turtle.

The law their song, of the mother’s moblo, and children’s mob, and the connections work for all Yolnu. And sitting here are we Yolnu, Yirritja and Dhuwa, and by means of this we are having new generations of our children.

The land-bone holds grass, rocks, meat, trees, earth, water, separated into groups, into the bush, on to the saltpans, to the sand hills, to the beaches, and there inside the water, separated into distinct groups to both Yirritja and Dhuwa, because we create our totemic identities to these different things.

So exactly there is the work of sharing skill/resources s/he that yolnu, how we will sit, bring ral, and give to each other.

Here we come out alone, and yet we grow inside various Yolnu groups. To justify our work, is separate for groups and for groups.


Yolnu from all around this country have been giving life to new generations within the law, and we all grew up, and learnt our law. We are Aboriginal people of Australia in distinct groups here in the Northern Territory.

We Yolnu people grew up and we learnt the various stories, we got them from the ceremonies, and the ancestral songs, from the mortuary rites, from the keening, and from many other sources.

These very stories reveal the work of our day to day life, and we practise them as we carry our knowledge, confidence and skills into the bush and on to the beach. Okay, and when a Yirritja person sings, they might sing for example, “That Wurra group is going to see the long open beach Djaltji, Watjpalala, Gawunu, and Manurr lying there”, that implies that there is a lot of good meaty food there, and we will gather it successfully. Maybe s/he is dragging along a warrawuku, the ancestral Wangurri paperbark raft, piled up with cockleshells.

Or maybe hunting through the mangroves for a tree which we would call godu-maypalmirr (because we refer to it in a specially respectful way).

That Wangurri (Yirritja) song makes clear what the Yolnu hunter is to do, and prepares him for his search for the best and most efficient source of meat. And women are also called ral-dumurr if they have for example collected a lot of shellfish.

In the same way, my mother’s people always sing the song, and tell the stories of their own good hunters, for turtle. They have properly prepared the rope and harpoon and their canoes, which have their own particular clanaffiliated names, like Wuwarku, Bultjimarra, and Daymirri.

They sing their own ancestral song, and it shows them the way ahead, all their different styles, how they should go out for the turtle hunt. The law which is in their own song, is also for their mother’s people and their (sister’s) children’s people, and so it makes connections through kinship to all the other various groups of Yolnu.

So we live as groups, Yirritja and Dhuwa, and through this, we continue to give life to new generations.

The land holds plants, rocks, animals, trees, sand, water all over the place, in the bush, on the plains, the hills, the beaches and underneath the sea, each other belonging to particular Yirritja and Dhuwa peoples, and our Yolnu identity is committed to those various things as totems.

And therein lies the work of sharing for each person, how we will continue to collect food, and share it. We are born alone, but we grow up in specific Yolnu ancestral groupings. Our understanding of our actions is individual to our particular groups.