NPA Languages Alive

Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council (NPARC) is coordinating a language revival project to support the languages of the five NPA communities – Bamaga, Injinoo, New Mapoon, Seisia and Umagico. The  language profile of the communities include languages from the Torres Strait Islands, Cape York and various Creoles and Aboriginal Englishes. This reflects the original communities from which people were moved to the NPA.

Languages of Cape York, Alpher (1972)

Injinoo is the oldest of the NPA Communities and was originally known as Cowal Creek when Anggamuthi, Atambaya, Wuthathi, Yadaigana and Gudang clans established their own settlement about 1915. In 1923, it became an official Anglican Church Mission.

Cowal Creek Mission, 1926. JOL Negative 58155.

Umagico is another Aboriginal community on the NPA; it was formed originally by George Williams, a stockman who worked for Frank Jardine, who wanted to live apart from the Injinoo community. In 1963, the people from Lockhart River were forced from their traditional lands on Eastern Cape York and re-settled at Umagico.

Umagico IKC.

Bamaga is the administrative centre for the NPA and was established as a Torres Strait Islander community when a group of Saibai Islanders under the leadership of Bamaga Ginau moved to Mutee Heads. By 1948, there were about 400 Saibai Islanders living there and it officially became known as Bamaga.

 

New Mapoon was established in the early 1960’s when the people of Mapoon, near Weipa, were forcibly removed from their homes to allow bauxite mining in the area.

 

All of these communities maintain strong cultural and linguistic connections to their homelands. Some languages are still quite strong and spoken in homes and communities; however others are endangered and require urgent assistance for their revival. There is also a concern across the communities that Creoles, ‘slangs’ and Aboriginal Englishes are being used as community languages in place of traditional languages. In light of this, NPARC were successful in a funding application under the New Media and Indigenous Languages initiative – NPA Languages Alive. The main focus of the project is the use of New Media and technology to document the languages of the NPA and develop resources to support language revival activities across the NPA communities. The Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs) are a key player in the project and the State Library of Queensland provides additional support towards the project.

 

 

Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, Queensland Memory

 

 

References and Further Reading

Bamaga State High School (1987)  ‘North of the Jardine’ : a look at the five communities of the N.P.A. P 994.38 nor