Ngaiyuriija Ngunawal Language Group



Kayleen Busk

We identify through our language, everything that goes on in our country. It’s just us. The language is us. The land, the country is us. Can you understand where I’m coming from here? It’s something that you have in you, you know? No matter where you go, we are country. The land is us and everything around it. It’s us.

We first started this project for the revival of our language, our Ngunawal language. Back in the 20s and 30s when my mum was going to school they were told not to speak tongue. No langue at all. They had to speak only English which repressed our learning as the generations came through. Now at last we come together as a group to learn from scratch how to speak our tongue, which to us is very important. It is the heart of us. I am very much traditional as far as my ancestors and my country is concerned. So it is a very important project and I am so happy that we could have AIATSIS to help us through this to get us up and going.

We’ve been, I’d say, probably about close on twelve months since we started compiling words, researching words that we needed to compile before we could start anything. Now we have words we just need to now put it in to action.

We just asked around to different family members - Did you have any words? My Uncle Donald Bell, he had quite a few words God bless him, he’s not with us anymore, but he’d be so proud. He’d be so proud we’re doing this. It’s for past and present. Until we get everything going I know we have got a task ahead of us, but we’re up for it.

It’s bringing people together; our people that need to be able to speak their native tongue.

I have 11 grandchildren who can’t wait to speak the language. Already I am being called Heesha*, which means ‘Mother’ by my children, which I just love to hear that, you know? To be able to just say something that’s your native tongue, you know. My mum has passed along time ago, so they weren’t allowed to speak their language so we’ve grown up not being able to speak tongue so for us to revive it, ancestors would be proud of us to now bring our language to the fore.