Visualising Yanyuwa narratives

Making the oral visual: Visualising Yanyuwa narratives and the possibilities of cross generational transfer of knowledge

In 1997 there were approximately 270 speaker of the Yanyuwa language, a language spoken in the south west Gulf of Carpentaria. Today there are less than ten people who can speak this language and who continue to use it on a daily basis as their first language of communication. Like many other Indigenous languages in Australia Yanyuwa is in crisis, a language such as Yanyuwa is a repository of a very specialised cultural and life experience.

This research has roots that extend back 30 years when the Assoc. Prof. John Bradley, began documenting Yanyuwa language and culture, working with the old people and the present group of old people in creating both a Yanyuwa encyclopaedic dictionary and a Yanyuwa atlas of their country. While both documents serve as important reference points for older Yanyuwa people the children and adolescents are growing up knowing little about the Law of their land.

In conjunction with anthropologist Dr Amanda Kearney of the University of New South Wales, talented IT professionals Tom Chandler, Brent McKee and Chandara Ung of the Berwick Campus of Monash University have developed the Wunungu Awara: Animating Indigenous Knowledges website. The project has aimed to assist Indigenous people throughout Australia in the 3D animation of stories combining poetry, songs and language, whereby older and younger generations of the Yunyuwa people may sit together and share knowledge.