Walmajarri is a language spoken by Indigenous Walmajarri Aboriginal Australians in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
UNESCO declared that Walmajarri is an endangered language based on their scale of Language Vitality and Endangerment.
At Yakanarra Community School, we recognise the importance of Walmajarri language as integral to helping students develop a deeper sense of identity, to connect with Country, and to help heal the intergenerational trauma of colonization.
YCS integrates the Language Revival Learner Pathway of the Australian Curriculum into the curriculum, and is currently in the Language Revitalisation stage. An excerpt from the Australian Curriculum Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander explains:
'Language Revitalisation: where there are fluent L1 speakers (typically members of the older generation) but intergenerational transmission of the language has been interrupted. In this case, younger generations may understand some of the language and may use some words and phrases but they do not speak it as their first language. Examples of revitalisation languages include: Walmajarri in the Kimberley, Yindjibarndi in the Pilbara, Meriam in the Torres Strait, Dyirbal in north-eastern Queensland, Wubuy (Nunggubuyu) in Arnhem Land, and Adnyamathanha (Yura Ngawarla) in the Flinders Ranges.'
All Walmajarri people belong to one of eight skin groups. Skin groups help people to know how they are related to each other.
Each skin group has a different name for the male and female. For example JAKARRA and nakarra are brother and sister and belong to the same group.
Here are the eight skin groups. Capitals are used for male names, small letters for female names.
JAMPIYIRNTI, naminki (nampiyirnti)
Elders in Yakanarra community have spoken of the importance of all students and staff learning the traditional
Walmajarri Skin system. They have spoken of ‘knowing your skin is knowing your identity which is traced through
the ancestral lines’.
All AET’s, Grounds and Kitchen staff, classroom teachers, and students are encouraged to learn their traditional
skin name, and their family relations as illustrated through the Skin Name diagram below:
LEAD THE WAY
“Local learning is important for us to learn in two-ways through the school. Learn who they are and where they come from, so they don't forget who they are” - Jeanelle Smith
At Yakanarra Community School, we are very fortunate to have the support of Indigenous Language speakers and teachers Jessie Moora, Mary Vanbee and other respected Elders. Recently Beryl Dickens has also joined the School as Walmajarri Teacher and leads the way with language revitalisation.
YCS recognises and celebrates the knowledge of these important teachers, and with support from the Principal and School Staff, are helping to lead the way forward for Walmajarri Language Revival through both book publications and translations, music production, video content creation, and leading inter-school language teacher meetups in the Fitzroy Valley region. Many examples of the Walmajarri resources can be found on the YCS Blog.
AT YCS, Walmajarri language is integrated throughout the day in all subject areas, and all staff and visitors are encouraged to learn and speak Walmajarri while at School.