Our languages matter: Jaru/Kija

July 2, 2017

To celebrate the first day of NAIDOC week (July 2-9), our strength and culture, I would like to share with you some Jaru and Kija words from my mob up in the Kimberley.

  • Kural- mother
  • Wanyanyakim- children
  • Gungayi/jaja/ojoo- grandmother/grandfather/grandparents
  • Nupper- water
  • Doomba- belly
  • Gooyou- food

Here is some of the Jaru/Kija language in the amazing Indigenous Hip Hop Project songs from Halls Creek.


You mob already know what your language means to you. Lots of us lost our language through invasion, Stolen Generation, racist policies and more. I can speak fluent Standard Australian English and Aboriginal English, and many Jaru/Kija words.

There were 250+ distinct Aboriginal language groups that covered Australia before European invasion. Today Jaru and Kija join the 120 approx. of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost as Elders pass on.

Today we let the world know, our languages matter. They help us understand our cultural identity, link us to the land and water, they help us share our history, spirityality and Law.

Here are some challenges for all you Aboriginal mob this week:

  • There is no better day than today to connect with an Elder, ask questions, hear their stories, learn as much as you can. Our Elders wont be here with us forever. Hopefully our languages can.
  • Check out Magabala Books who publish Aboriginal only authors and stories. They might have one in your language… or you might be inspired to write one.

Our debut book due to launch with Magabala Books in 2018 celebrates the Jaru language with many words used to help tell the story. I can’t wait to share it with you mob!

Share some words in your language with me in the comments! What are you doing to celebrate NAIDOC day?


  1. Verena Fantastic resource. Well done you guys😊
    August 28, 2018 at 8:58 am · Reply
  2. Andy Congratulations on the publication of Black Cockatoo and on being Short Listed for CBC book of the year. Your novel will be our focus text for Book Week 2019 and I am excited to share it with my class but I want to respect your language and pronounce the words as accurately as possible. Is it possible for you to make a document that lists the Jaru words and how to pronounce them please?
    June 25, 2019 at 4:54 pm · Reply
    • Hakea Thank you for taking the time to share our book and to drop by to ask, Andy! Page 95 of our Teaching Resources has the information you are after. We are thinking about putting up a Youtube video with pronunciation as well soon! http://carlandhakea.com.au/extras/teachers-and-librarians/ Carl and Hakea
      August 4, 2019 at 7:03 pm · Reply

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