Yakanarra is a small community approximately 60 kilometres south-west of Fitzroy Crossing, on the edge of the St Georges Ranges in the remote and rugged Kimberley of Western Australia.
Yakanarra Community School is part of the AICS (Aboriginal Independent Community Schools) network, and was established in 1991.
The school caters for children from Kindy through to Year 10 through the Western Australian Curriculum, with a strong emphasis placed on Health, Well-Being, and the revival of traditional Walmajarri language.
YCS delivers a responsive and innovative educational program to Aboriginal children & teens in a remote community that encourages a two-way learning model that values and respects both Indigenous and non-Indigenous ways of knowing, thinking and learning.
We welcome you to Yakanarra Community School on Walmajarri Country. Yakanarra is a special place for us and it is our traditional home. Our school is a friendly and safe place for all the students from different families where kids come together, learn, and are happy.
We want kids to come to school and learn Maths & English. We also like children learning outside and in the EON garden. Everyone likes Bush Trips.
Teaching Walmajarri language and Culture to the children is very important to us, and we want to make sure that teaching Walmajarri Language and Culture continues on strong into the future.
We also want older students getting ready for Boarding School, and when they are confident, we send them off to Wongutha CAPS to complete their education.
Yakanarra Community School's Mission is to create a safe and friendly environment where students and staff can learn, share, and grow together. YCS values community voices and includes Indigenous perspectives within its learning framework. YCS nurtures and celebrates student and staff success and works towards creating healthy, confident, and respectful learners. Yakanarra Community School recognises the importance of learning Literacy & Numeracy along with maintaining Cultural practises, connection to Country, and the revival of traditional Walmajarri language.
VISIONS + VALUES
NUMERACY & LITERACY
ON COUNTRY LEARNING
Pampilla Hanson Boxer & YCS First Principal Laurel Sutcliffe
Yakanarra community was first established in 1989, when a small group of people led by Walmajarri Elder Hanson ‘Pampila’ Boxer moved out to the site they had selected as their future home. As far back as 1981, a group of Walmajarri people wrote a letter to the station owners, the Emmanuel brothers, who lived in Perth, asking for permission to move back to the station where many of them were born. Here is a excerpt from that letter:
"We are writing to ask you about the land at Old Cherrabun. The name of our group, Yakanarra, is the Walmajarri name for the country at the old Cherrabun homestead.
Most of our people are living in Fitzroy Crossing now, and some are at Noonkanbah and Milijidee and other places. But our group is all the people who were born and grew up at Old Cherrabun.
We love that country and we are missing it very much. Out tribe comes from out there, and our language too. Some of our old people are passing away without seeing their home.
There are about fifty people in our group.
There are two things we want to ask you.
First, our group wants to move out to old Cherrabun to live.
Second, we would like to ask you about the land. We would like to have a good sized block along the river."
After this there were lots of letters sent to other bodies such as the Lands Dept of WA, ATSIC, The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, etc. A square mile of land on Gogo station was granted to the Yakanarra people. Then more people came to live here.
The Community wanted more land and wrote the following letter to Minister, Robert Tickner in June 1992. The letter is by Hanson Boxer (Pampila), Chairperson of Yakanarra Community.
"I am writing to ask for help to buy more land for my Community. Yakanarra has a one-square mile excision on Gogo station.The community got this land in January 1989. Since the sixty people have set up a community here. We have built 20 boughsheds out of bush materials, two large metal sheds and a toilet block. We have also set up and run our own school for the last 2 years without government money. Through the Community’s CDEP Program Yakanarra operates a communal kitchen and a store.
We are hard working people. We were all born in this country. Some of our parents and grandparents were born here. Some were brought in from the desert by station owners sixty or eighty years ago. We belong to this land. We want to own this land through European law. When we do we won’t sell it to anybody.
We need this land for many reasons: There are many special sites here. We need to look after them. Without the land we cannot keep our culture and language strong. We are worried that our young people will lose their Aboriginal culture unless they can live and learn in their own country.
We also need land for economic reasons. Yakanarra’s Community Housing Program is just the beginning. In ten years time we will have more than 100 people living here. One hundred people can’t make a living from one square mile of land. We want to purchase old Cherrabun Station. This is now part of Gogo Station."
Take a look at this older article published in The West Australian Newspaper in 1991. Before getting dongas, aircons and electricity out in Yakanarra, we used to live in bough sheds built from logs and spinifex (image featured below). Yakanarra Community School first started in a bough shed in 1990, similar to the image below. Six years later, we got funding to build two proper classrooms!
The Yakanarra Dockers Women's Football Team 2020
The current site for Yakanarra was selected because of its traditional and sacred significance to the Walmajarri People.
It is close to the dreamtime site ‘Parnany’ (old woman) about whom a number of stories have been passed down through the generations. Mangunampi Jila is also closeby. Because it is a natural permanent water supply, Aboriginal people have used this as a campsite for hundreds, maybe thousands of years.
Today’s residents of Yakanarra have cultural and emotional ties to the Old Cherrabun homestead site, with the modern-day community located 20 kilometres south of the old site.
There are approximately 35 community houses, a store and an Independent school that was established in 1990. The school is funded by the Australian Government and the Western Australian Government on a per capita basis, as well as some one-off grants for special projects such as traditional language and culture.
Yakanarra has grown from a handful of people, to a flourishing community of 150 Indigenous men, women and children. The main aims of the community are to allow members to practise traditional cultural activities, pass on language and cultural knowledge to their children and to look after ‘country’.
Situated away from town, the community also provides families with a safe and healthy place to live and raise children away from the negative impact of alcohol. (Taken from https://www.mww.org.au/wangkatjungka-1)