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Mosquito Dreaming Celebration Ceremony

The Marri Ngarr Rak Dirrangara people danced up a storm to celebrate the launch of their book and DVD – Awu Ngawak i Awu Djimbetj Yagatiya – Black and Yellow Mosquito Dreaming.

Senior Elder Larri Rex Munar is very old and frail now, but he has worked tirelessly over the last few years to pass on his ancestral knowledge to Marri Ngarr families.

Marri Ngarr Rak Dirrangara families paid tribute to Larri in a celebration ceremony at Wadeye on 17th August as part of the Wadeye Festival. Towards the end of the ceremony the children danced up the book and DVD as a sign of deep respect for the work that Larri has undertaken to keep their culture alive and strong.

‘I feel a spark in my heart today, we are very happy.  Today our families all came together to dance for our country and so everyone can know us and our Mosquito Dreaming. We were dancing to thank Larri and celebrate working together for our future.’Yilimu Kungul

Mosquito Dreaming tells the story of the events that led to the mosquito creation sites. Family members worked with Larri to transcribe the many recounts of this story and to translate the story so that it could be produced as a bilingual text. Batchelor Institute graduates in Larri’s family worked to produce the final story for publication. Walbinthith Dominica Lantjin a teacher education graduate and her sister Perripelli Donna Lantjin who works in the Knowledge Centre did the first transcriptions and translations. Mayirri Damian Tunmuck a graduate from the Batchelor Institute Centre of Language and Linguists added his professional skill to edit and proof the story. Yilimu Bernadine Kungul worked with Larri and family members to help coordinate this intergeneration project, undertaking several field trips to country, assisting with documentation, interpreting and overseeing design and layout of the book.

Maree Klesch, the Project Manager for Batchelor Press has worked closely with Mark Crocombe the Project Officer at the Wadeye Aboriginal Languages Centre to support intergenerational participation in the documentation of the dreamings, place names and clan specific knowledge with Marri Ngarr Rak Dirrangara families.

The project highlights the importance of strengthening Wadeye community languages and documenting and publishing open knowledge for future generation. There are five main language groups living at Wadeye with a further three smaller language groups living permanently in the community.  Within these language groups there are 24 clan groups that need support to document their languages and ancestral knowledge before it is too late. For most of the languages at Wadeye there are very few first language speakers left and for four of the languages five or less speakers remaining. It is a critical time for these languages and support is needed to document ancestral knowledge before it is too late.

The partnership between the Wadeye Aboriginal Languages Centre and Batchelor Institute has been running for ten years and has produced many publications and resources to support language documentation, however there is much work still to be done for the 24 clan groups.

The joint project is grateful for the funding it has received from the Commonwealth Government through the Indigenous Language Support program through the Department of the Prime Minster, Cabinet and the Arts. Wadeye community also assists with support of in-kind resources from the OLSH Thamarrurr College and Thamarrurr Rangers. Community organisations have also assisted with some funds to enable publication of whole of community resources.

Maree Klesch says reviving and recovering Aboriginal languages is a vital part of keeping cultural tradition and knowledge alive so these can be passed on to the next generations.

‘Communities learning language together strengthens the community and takes steps towards reconciliation of our country.’ Maree Klesch