Empowering Indigenous Voices: Fitzroy Crossing’s Bilingual Children’s Books

In a celebration of culture, language, and community, local Indigenous women from the Fitzroy Crossing area have created a collection of vibrant and bilingual children’s books. Crafted with love and care, these books aim not only to preserve the rich First Nations languages of the region but also to offer a glimpse into life in the remote Western Australian community. Empowering Indigenous Voices: Fitzroy Crossing’s Bilingual Children’s Books

Collaborating at a workshop held at Fitzroy Crossing’s Baya Gawiy Buga yani Jandu yani u Centre, these women worked alongside esteemed figures such as Indigenous Literacy Foundation Lifetime Ambassador Alison Lester, children’s author Jane Godwin, and designer Lee Burgemeestre. Together, they birthed four beautiful texts: Mayarda (Pelicans), Manyi Nganyjaali (Bush tomatoes), Kurrartuwarnti (Brolgas), and Jirntipirriny jaa Lamparn Parri (Willy Wagtail and the Little Boy).

Preserving Heritage Through Stories

Mayarda (Pelicans), authored by Patricia Cox in both Gooniyandi and English, is a playful songbook that not only teaches children how to count in Gooniyandi but also imparts valuable lessons about caring for Country and respecting the environment. Collaborating with Dr. Gillian Howell from The University of Melbourne, this project brought forth songs with deep cultural significance, reinforcing the importance of storytelling in preserving language and cultural knowledge for future generations.

Empowering Through Language and Culture

June Nixon, author and illustrator of Kurrartuwarnti (Brolgas) and Jirntipirriny jaa Lamparn Parri (Willy Wagtail and the Little Boy), shares her own journey of learning Walmajarri from her elders. Through her books, she aims to pass on the stories and traditions she learned, emphasizing the importance of teaching language and culture from a young age.

A Gift to the Community

Published by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, these four texts will be gifted back to the Fitzroy Crossing community, enriching playgroups and homes with stories that reflect their heritage and values. Additionally, these books are available commercially, inviting readers to explore the words in Walmajarri and Gooniyandi while gaining insight into life in this remote Indigenous community.

Reviving Memories, Building Legacies

Alison Lester, reflecting on her time at Baya Gawiy, recalls the joy of witnessing the women’s dedication and creativity. With previous successes like Purlka ngamaji Kakaji (Big Fat Mummy Goanna) and Jarrampa (Yabbies), the support from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation has helped bring these beautiful books to life, ensuring that Indigenous voices are heard and celebrated.

These bilingual children’s books stand as a testament to the resilience, creativity, and cultural richness of the Fitzroy Crossing community. They serve as a beacon of empowerment, nurturing language, and heritage for generations to come.

The National Indigenous Cultural Centre (NICC) is an Indigenous home. We provide Indigenous products, music, art and news. If you want Indigenous gifts and merchandise, bush tucker food at your next event or Indigenous entertainment at your next party, expo or conference, feel free to contact us!

Tony Clemenger

Chief Executive Officer

0419 431 649

Level 1 397 Chapel Street South Yarra 3141

Source: https://nit.com.au/07-03-2024/10103/first-nations-language-stories-preserved-through-fitzroy-crossing-indigenous-literacy-project

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