Dunghutti lessons at Amaroo Local Aboriginal Land Council

Reggae Towney conducts a Dunghutti language class at the Amaroo office every Friday.

Reggae Towney conducts a Dunghutti language class at the Amaroo office every Friday.

The local Aboriginal community is reclaiming its culture through a weekly Dunghutti language class for Koori’s aged from 2 to 60 years plus.

“We want to focus on our own people first and take a couple of years to revive the Dunghutti language so we can be the teachers of the future,” said Amaroo Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive officer Mark Davies.

The Dunghutti language is one of the few Aboriginal languages to have survived the years of colonisation and the decimating effect it had on indigenous culture. However many Walcha elders are unable to speak it.

It is because of this that local Aboriginal leaders want a chance to revive their language within the mob before sharing it with the wider community.

“One elder put it to me that they don’t want to be in a situation where a non-Aboriginal child comes up to them in the street and speaks Dunghutti to them when they can’t understand what they are saying,” said Mr Davies.

One elder put it to me that they don’t want to be in a situation where a non-Aboriginal child comes up to them in the street and speaks Dunghutti to them when they can’t understand what they are saying

Mark Davies

It is estimated that traditional Dunghutti lands encompassed some 9,100 square kilometres. They took in the area from Point Lookout southwards as far as the headwaters of the Macleay River and the vicinity of the Mount Royal Range. To the east, their territory ran as far as the crests of the coastal ranges, while their inland extension to the west ran up to the Great Dividing Range and Walcha.

In her paper discussing Aboriginal language programs at NSW TAFE, Jackie Cipollone says that according to research, in NSW there are around 70 different Aboriginal languages that have survived colonisation, although many have been lost.

“Many Aboriginal elders in NSW believe that the languages are not dead,” she says, “but are sleeping and waiting to be revived.” 

Mr Davies  said the Amaroo Local Aboriginal Land Council would welcome any donations of stationery from local business houses which could then be used during the Dunghutti language classes .