Yókkarra | Njonja | Jichicha | Maningrida Fish Project

Senior men Don Wilton, Jimmy Olsen and Stuart Ankin are traditional owners of clan estates along the north-central Arnhem Land coastline to the north and east of Maningrida. They are leading a group of local men in a fishing enterprise through Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation. Don is the owner of Nardilmuk, owned by Kunibídji people, and this is the main base for the fishing operation.

Link to an ABC News story about the fishing enterprise

Listen to an interview with Don Wilton on A Big Country

As part of this project we are taking the opportunity to dig up some research done through the Maningrida school language program into fish names and knowledge. This includes some books and a significant database of knowledge that was compiled by linguist Carolyn Coleman (1980s-2000s). At a workshop in November 2017, Carolyn worked with Na-kara elders Jimmy Kalamirnda and Mary Nabalangkarra on checking the fish names in this database. Jimmy and Mary are seasoned language workers, having worked closely with linguist Bronwyn Eather on the Na-kara Dictionary. They are also excellent at catching fish and know the species that live along their coast, rivers, creeks and swamps very well.

This project is working on a fish poster, aiming to support the teaching and learning of fish names from a number of local languages. It shows the main fish caught by the fishing team, with names in 5 languages – Ndjébbana, Na-kara, Burarra, English and Latin. There is also a film in production, funded by the Community Broadcasting Foundation and to be screened on ICTV.


Thankyou to: Jimmy Kalamirnda, Mary Nabalangkarra, Don Wilton, Stuart Ankin, Clem Bresson, David Mason, Carolyn Coleman, Alastair James, Rebecca Green, Mason Scholes.


Photographs: David Mason and Margaret Carew

Eather, B. and J. Kalamirnda (2005). A first dictionary of Na-Kara. Winnellie, NT, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation.