A Project Supported by the NED Foundation

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Project Overview

Project Grant Year: 

Ngukurr, formerly Roper River Mission (1908−1968), is a remote Aboriginal community on the banks of the Roper River in southern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.

Founded as the Roper River Mission in 1908, the settlement was taken over by the Northern Territory Government's Welfare Department in 1968, and handed over to the community in 1988, at which time it was renamed Ngukurr.

NED was approached by the Ngukurr Language Centre who outlined the need to preserve the Ritharrŋu/Wägilak, one of the local languages, using film made in language. The language is critically endangered with fewer than twenty speakers left and the request to make a film came from within the community who expressed a desire to have both an oral and a visual record of natural speakers. The film is a document of culture as community members share stories in language (subtitled). Language learning has also been incorporated so that the film provides an ongoing resource to the community.

A review of the project indicates that the people have welcomed the film. Being able to observe people they know out on Country while speaking their language and sharing stories of importance to them is now a valued cultural artifact and is being used in informal learning as well as language classes. The film has also screened on NITV.

Ngukurr Language Centre Website

Ngukurr is a large Aboriginal community in southern Arnhem Land, situated on Ngalakgan land. Formerly a mission, the community population covers 8-10 heritage languages that are all now endangered. Our languages are Alawa, Marra, Warndarrang, Ngandi, Ngalakgan, Rembarrnga, Wubuy (Nunggubuyu), Wägilak, and Ritharrŋu. We also work with Kriol, the main language spoken in Ngukurr today.

Ngukurr Language Centre