Kuku Yalanji for the young
THERE’S no language more important than one’s own.
That’s why the Muruku group at the Mossman Community Centre are creating early learning readers in the Kuku Yalanji language for children in Douglas Shire.
The books aim to teach children basic sentences containing often used words, like numbers, colours and animals, in the Yalanji language.
Janine Paterson, from the Muruku group, was one of the facilitators who decided to create these books to further children’s learning of the language.
“There are Yalanji classes but there’s no readers and consequently people don’t learn complete sentences, so this is to improve Yalanji speaking,” said Ms Paterson.
Joan Fordham is also helping out by lending her computer skills to the project and she hopes local schools can introduce the books to class.
“I think if we get this introduced to preschools and primary schools locally where the language is important that would be absolutely brilliant,” Ms Fordham said.
Fiona Creek, one of the artists on the project, said she’s proud to see this book come out to teach her kids.
“It’s a very good idea to keep the language alive and pass it down to the younger ones. I’ve enjoyed making it too,” Ms Creek said.
All the words and phrases in the book are approved by the elders and Yalanji speakers.
The North Queensland Regional Aboriginal Corporation Language Centre is collaborating with the Muruku group and the Mossman Community Centre, who received $5000 in funding from the Aboriginal Benefits Foundation, a not for profit organisation, to retrieve, maintain, preserve and protect the local Kuku Yalanji language.
The picture books are hand painted individually with a total of 52 images.
Two of the books are hoped to be finished by NAIDOC week starting July 10, fitting in with this year’s theme of “Our Languages Matter”.
Fiona Creek, an illustrator of the books, painted her daughter Shaona Solomon as one of the characters