Bardi Jaawi Life at Ardiyooloon PDF Print E-mail

The One Arm Point Culture Program was initiated in 2008 when Bardi Jaawi Elders and community members asked for a culture program to be developed within the school. The Elders have always played an integral role in the school community, and they wanted to find ways to pass on their knowledge and ensure that Bardi Jaawi traditional culture and language was kept alive for future generations.

Earlier in 2006, the Bardi Jaawi people had won a long battle when the Federal Court ruled that they had native title rights over their land, sea, reef and islands. Native title is an acknowledgement by the Australian Government that some Indigenous people have rights to land that comes from their traditional law and long connection to country. It was awarded to the Bardi Jaawi people because of their strong connection to country.

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Bardi Jaawi Culture Team
The One Arm Point Culture Program is managed by a Culture Team made up of Elders, community members and school advisors. The program has now become one of the most important parts of the school’s curriculum, and it has won state and national education and reconciliation awards for its commitment to cultural maintenance.

Each fortnight, the school runs activities such as spear making, dancing, storytelling, cooking bush tucker, traditional fishing practices, Bardi language, camps and visits to country. This culminates in a cultural concert that is held at the end of each school term. An old classroom has been set up at the school as a cultural history museum and houses a record of the cultural learning journeys. The integration of the Bardi Jaawi traditional ways of life with the contemporary school curriculum has produced a vibrant, energetic and rich learning environment. It has empowered the youth with cultural knowledge, brought family groups together and worked towards community harmony.

Some Bardi kinship words are:

  • We call our father gooloo.
  • We call our father’s father
    galoongoordoo (galoo for short) and
    our mother’s father nyami.
  • We call our mother birrii.
  • We call our mother’s mother gamani
    and our father’s mother goli.
  • We call our father’s brother gooloo too.
  • We call our father’s sister irrmoor.
  • We also call our mother’s sister birrii.
  • We call our mother’s brother gaarra.

The children of the One Arm Point Remote Community School were in the running to win the Children’s Book Council of Australia Information Book of the Year Award with ‘Our World: Bardi Jaawi Life at Ardiyooloon’.

Ardiyooloon is home to the Bardi Jaawi people and sits at the end of a red dirt road at the top of the Dampier Peninsula, 200km north of Broome in the north-west of Western Australia. Also known as One Arm Point, the community is surrounded on three sides by the saltwater that plays such an integral part in the people’s lives.

‘Our World: Bardi Jaawi Life at Ardiyooloon’ takes readers inside the lives of the children of this community—camping and fishing, sharing traditional stories and dances, reading the seasons, finding waterholes, tracking, cooking and eating bush tucker and animals such as turtles, crabs, oysters and clams, and making spears, boomerangs, bough shelters and bush brooms. The book celebrates the connection of the Bardi Jaawi people to the land and sea, and their efforts to retain those links.

An important way of passing on their knowledge and skills to future generations is through the cultural program at the One Arm Point Remote Community School where the children experience those traditions first-hand. In the past, the One Arm Point school at Ardiyooloon was set up to teach English literacy and numeracy skills to enable Indigenous children to ‘fit into’ mainstream society. Today, the integration of Bardi Jaawi traditional ways of life with a contemporary school curriculum has produced a vibrant, energetic and rich learning environment for about 100 students.

‘Our World: Bardi Jaawi Life at Ardiyooloon’ is published by Magabala Books, a not-for-profit Aboriginal Corporation based in Broome that aims to promote, preserve and publish Indigenous Australian culture. ‘Our World: Bardi Jaawi Life at Ardiyooloon’ is available in bookshops and online at www.magabala.com.

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Bardi Kinship Chart

Words and pictures are generously provided courtesy of Magabala Books. For more information go to www.magabala.com