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Teaching from Country - Yingiya | Nayi, Nali, Nunhi, Darwin, Ndash, Lakaram, Mala, Dhawu | FATSILC, Fed. Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Languages and Culture
Teaching from Country - Yingiya PDF Print E-mail
Homeland - Classroom
Homeland - Classroom
This is a transcription taken from a lecture in October 2008 by Yingiya, the Yolnu Studies lecturer at Charles Darwin University (CDU). He talks about ‘Teaching from Country’, an ICTV-based network for Yolnu on-country research and development of traditional knowledge teaching. This program aims to set up and evaluate distance education in reverse: the Yolnu lecturers are in remote places, while the students are (mostly) on campus in Darwin.


Yow, nhawi, dhuwal nhawi, nhawi napurr ga djama, dhiyal napurr nunhi nhaltjan limurr dhu baki balanya nhakun computer, camera, satellite dish mala, nhaliy limurruny dhu gunga’yun.

Dhuwandja nayi ga dharra ga classroomna dhiyal, dhiyal Darwin.

Dhuwandja ga student mala nhina balanda mala, walal ga marngithirr nunhi nhe ga dhunupa lakaram walalan dhipunur dhawu.

Njayin ga nurunun wuni`iyna mala dharpayna, gapuyna nurunun, narkula nunha dha`irr’yun ga walna, nir’yun ga.

Njaliny ga ganan empty-n ma][a marrtji, ga nunhaldja nali dhu dhawu lakaram, baynun, empty-n dhawu.

Njunhi nali dhu nunha banydji wananur dharra, nayi dhu dha`irr’yun Rulyapa, Manbuyna wutthunmirr dhu ga.

Bitja dhu nayi miln’maram ga nhama, nali dhu dhakay-nama nayi dhu nurini, digital technology-y, camera-y nayi dhu dhakay-nama.

Litjalangun nayi dhu dharanan, walna nunhi nali, nhaltjan nali ga nayanu milkarrimirriyirr manikay djama.

Nhaltjan nali ga nayanu-milkarrirriyirr dhawu lakaram wanapuy.

Gunda nunha nayi dhu ga balanday nhama.

Njunhaldja nali nhannu dhu Darwindja djitinurdja lakaram gundapuy, nayiny dhu bitjan. “Baynu nunhi walnamiriw nula nha dharpaw nhe ga wana, gundaw, baynu dhu nunhi gi nir’yun”.

Yaka nunhaldja nali dhu ga dharra, dhakay’-nama nali nanya dhu ga nir’yunawuy, wana nayi ga.

Njunhi nayi dhu litjalany namum, dha-gir’yun nayi dhu litjalany. Njali dhu warrakanmiriw roniyirr, wo djannarryu nali dhu dhingam.

Njunhi nayi dhu litjalany dharanan, buku-wana nhannu bala rali nali dhu dharpaw wanarrgu.

Warrakangu nunhi nayi nhunu dhu dilkurruwurr nunhi wunili walal nhunu dhu gurrupan djambatj walal nhunu dhu gurrupan ral.

Nhe dhu maypal gonhdham, nhe dhu natha gonhdham retjanur, wo nhe dhu yarrgupthun miyapunu nhe dhu marram ba=panur, maranydjak nhe dhu marram, narirri nunha marrandilnur.

Dhuwali, dhiyaki mala, marr ga nali dhu ga wana ga dharananmirr limurr dhu ga nunhal.

Ok, this is, we are working on something here, over the last few days we’ve been working out ways on how we can use things such as computers, cameras, satellite dishes, the best way for these to help us.

This is the classroom here, here in Darwin.

These are the balanda (white) students sitting down, and they are learning as you teach direct from here (homeland).

The images of the trees, that water, the water that breaks it’s waves on the shore is alive and breathing.
You and I are travelling alone, empty, and when we get there to tell the story, it is empty and powerless.
If we were back there on country, the waves of the Rulpaya (Dhuwa sea) are breaking, and Manbuyna (Yirritja seas) the currents hitting each other.

They will ‘turn screen’ the images and view them, we can feel it, that digital camera will feel it.

A technology that will meet our thoughts and understanding, when we, how our feelings are in tears as we sing our songs.

How we grieve as we tell a story about the land.

A rock when a white man is watching.

When we tell them this story in Darwin city about the rock, they will just say. “There is no life in it
you’re talking to a tree that doesn’t have any spirit, that pandanus, it won’t be breathing”
But when we stand back there (home), we can feel it breathing, it can talk to us.

But if it (the land) doesn’t recognise us, it will punish us. We will go home without any food (catch for the day), or we might die from hunger.

But if the land recognise us,and understands that we are communicating to one another with a tree which is a totem.

For some meat that the manifestations of the old people may gives you skills and the ability to successfully hunt.

You can be able to collect shells and oysters, you can also go in the bush and collect yams, or you can go down to the reef and catch a turtle, or even stingray and fish also on the reef.

There, that is all, so that we can communicate and understand one another back there on the land.


Yiniya uses the exclusive pronoun, and locates us here (in Darwin).

Pointing to the part of the poster showing the classroom.

Dhunupa lakaram – tell straight

Those manifestations, that tree (actor), that water (actor) the water breaking (dhalirr’yun) is alive (walna) and breathing (nir’yun).

If we travel away to tell a story, it’s nothing.
Dhuwa and Yirritja: complementary halves of the environment. Wutthunmirr (hit: reflexive)

We turn on the screen, the camera feels the world...
Digital technology (actor, camera (actor)

Njayanu - seat of emotions Milkarri/mirri/yirr – tears/with/ become

we (you and I)

Njayi – she, he it

Njamun – not recognise, not see us for who we really are,

Dharanan – recognise, see us for who we really are,

Transcribed by Wangurru, and translated by Wangurru and Yingiya. For more information visit