Batchelor Institute » New book ‘Ngulajuku!’ shares history of Nyirripi community
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Date:October 24, 2022

New book ‘Ngulajuku!’ shares history of Nyirripi community

Fiona Gibson and Pauline Gallagher enjoy 'Ngulajuku!' during the book launch in Nyirrpi.Author Fiona Gibson and community member Pauline Gallagher read Ngulajuku! during the book launch in Nyirripi.

A new book titled Ngulajuku! Tiger’s story of how Nyirrpi came to be, which tells the story of Nyirripi in the Central Desert Region of the Northern Territory, was launched in the community on 13 October 2022.

The vibrantly illustrated bilingual book, published in Warlpiri and English, is based on an interview with the late Nyirripi leader Tiger Japaljarri Morris (dec. 2002) that was conducted by Fiona Napaljarri Gibson in 2001.

As leaders and educators, Morris shared his insights and experiences with Gibson so that future generations would be able to know about their community’s history.

It is a local story that provides insights into the intrusions on desert life and the changes they brought for Warlpiri people through the 20th century. The story tells of the hardship, struggle, learning, and resilience that led to the community of Nyirripi being established.

In the book, Morris describes life before kardiya (whitefellas) came to the Tanami. He talks about early experiences with kardiya at Mt Doreen and Yuendumu, mission life in the early days at Yuendumu, and the mammoth task of a small group of Warlpiri men and women who cleared a 150-kilometre stretch for the road from Yuendumu to Nyirripi.

At the time, Morris and Gibson’s interview was part of a Warlpiri research project consulting Elders and community members about their thoughts on language and education. Gibson later transcribed the recording and worked with Angela Harrison from Batchelor Institute’s Centre for Australian Languages and Linguistics (CALL) to produce the Ngulajuku! book.

“This book does not attempt to be a life story,” says Harrison, “or even a memoir, but a window into some of the significant events in one Warlpiri man’s life in the 20th century.”

The book is complemented by archival and community photographs, artwork images, timelines, maps, and illustrations, including some by Nyirripi middle years students. It contains a QR code that links to an audio track and film by PAW Media about the road clearing. It is also accompanied by a digital study guide from Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM).

The launch was broadcast live to the 8PAW Radio Network of 14 communities on the day. Outside of those communities, it was also available via the PAW Media Radio app and the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA). Following on from the Nyirripi launch, the book is also set to be presented in Alice Springs on 10 November 2022.

Along with two other Batchelor Press titles, Ngulajuku! has been selected for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s(ILF) 2023 Book Supply program, which will distribute 755 copies around Australia.

Songlines, stories from Yarrabah and beyond (2022) and Mookanunganuk, selected poems by Mooradoop Kathy Mills (2020) are the other titles that have been chosen for the ILF program. All three books are available for purchase via Batchelor Press.