Andre Cramblit andrekar at NCIDC.ORG
Tue Sep 20 18:12:44 UTC 2005

One man’s quest to save a language

Issue 89

The language of the Yalarrnga people from western Queensland is no
longer endangered thanks largely to the efforts of former Boulia
resident Lance Sullivan.

While completing his full time studies in anthropology and archaeology
at James Cook University, Lance embarked on a project that would see
his peoples’ language and culture preserved for years to come. Lance’s
book, Ngiaka Yalarrnga (sponsored by BHP Billiton’s Cannington Mine),
is the culmination of hundreds of hours he spent listening to and
recording older speakers of the Yalarrnga language.

“I truly believe the youth of today must be taught their mother’s tongue
and given the knowledge of their birth-right and that is why I have
written this book,” he said.

“Ngiaka Yalarrnga is also a tribute to the Yalarrnga people who have
passed before us.”

“When I was a young man one of the elders told me never to forget who or
what I am. She said to me, be proud, talk strong, walk tall, you are a
Yurri an Anangu, an Aboriginal man. Our ancestors blood flows through
your veins!

“I hope that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people enjoy reading
Ngiaka Yalarrnga and I’m sure that my book will help reinforce the
Yalarrnga language amongst Central Aboriginals,” Lance said.

Cannington is distributing Ngiaka Yalarrnga to libraries and schools in
north and western Queensland.

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