Culture, Country and Language

Culture Country and Language connects our kinship systems Kimberley wide. Our languages describe the cultural concepts that help shaped who we are. This includes the responsibilities and obligations for our country. Kimberley people are all of the relationships that bind everyone together, our human and non-human connections include totems and other species comprises the value of Country, our oceans, river and desert terrestrials and all eco systems. The term Country encompasses the physical spiritual and cultural meaning of lands. People are a natural resource and are considered to be part of our Culture Country and Language. These themes bring together all of Nulungu activities including our teaching and learning and all of our research.

Within all of our research, we work with Traditional Owners, Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) we seek to support integrated and holistic programs which support cultural maintenance, revitalisation and rejuvenation. Through the use of Aboriginal language to share narrative and knowledge, our research outputs are at times non-traditional (performance, music, storytelling, artistic) and varied. This is reflected in the additional support our applied research provides to Aboriginal cultural artistic practices and protocols on remote Country, as well as supporting, celebrating and promoting Aboriginal traditional and contemporary performance throughout the region and beyond. Culture Country and Language is inherently connected and a key component of Nulungu research.

Examples of Culture, Country and Language research:

  • ARC-funded Native Mounted Police Project
    Flinders Univeristy, University of Southern Queensland, University of New England and James Cook University

    Commencing in 2016, members of the Archaeology of the Native Mounted Police (NMP) project have been exploring the controversial topic of violence on the Queensland colonial frontier. While previous studies of the NMP have focused on policing activities as revealed by the historical record, this project has been combining archaeological, oral and historical evidence to understand more fully the activities, lives and legacies of the Force as they operated across QLD during the second half of the nineteenth century. The project has been wide ranging, working with Indigenous people and communities across the entire state, including descendants of massacre survivors, white officers and Indigenous troopers of the NMP. A key focus on the research was to make information more broadly available to the general public, so people can consider the evidence about life on the frontier directly themselves. To this end, as well as the usual array of academic papers, the team put out regular plain English blog posts on their findings, as well as built a publicly accessible database containing more than 13,000 documents and 13,000 artefacts relating to more than 150 NMP camps, 440 NMP officers, 800 NMP troopers and 1300 conflict events. The research was funded through the Australian Research Council (DP160100307), as a joint project by researchers from University of Notre Dame Australia, Flinders University, University of Southern Queensland, University of New England and James Cook University.
  • Burrungkuy Cultural Conservation Management Plan (Kakadu National Park)
  • Bunuba Cultural Caretakers Project
  • Wanjina oden barnja mirndi (Jilariba [Munja] Rock Art Project)
  • Uunguu Rock Art Site Management Project

Post Graduate and Doctoral Researchers Working in the Broad Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Space:

  • Bobbie Chew Bigby
  • Richard Meister

Previous Projects 

  • Youth Culture Camps Evaluation
    Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC)

    Nulungu was invited by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre to conduct an evaluation of the Youth Culture Camps project which is being funded by the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. The project is an innovative initiative aiming to support and strengthen customary culture-learning relationships, for the benefit of cultural tourism and other forms of economic development. Research is being implemented in four remote Kimberley communities. The Nulungu research team comprises Stephen Kinnane, Bruce Gorring, Kathryn Thorburn, Anna Dwyer, Geoff Buchanan and Petrine McGrohan. A project progress report can be downloaded from the Nulungu Featured Publications page.
  • Women’s Cultural Artistic Practices at the 2017 Jalalay KALACC Regional Cultural Festival
    Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC)
  • Marnda Gardairri (Indigenous Ranger Rock Art Forum 2017)
    Murujuga Rangers and Murujuga Land and Sea Unit, Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation
  • Investigating use of non-invasive techniques to assess durability of rock art conservation intervention strategies
    Kakadu National Park
  • Climate Change and Adaptation on Karajarri Country, Bidyadanga Community and ‘Pukarrikarra’ places
    Karajarri Traditional Lands Association (KTLA); The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS); The University of Melbourne
    In 2012, KTLA collaborated with researchers from AIATSIS, The University of Melbourne and Nulungu to look at climate change on Karajarri Country. The project was funded by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) and the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. The Research was to learn about:
    • Climate change on Karajarri Country on Karajarri Country
    • Understanding Karajarri Relationship to Country and the Governance of land water and sea.
    • The Karajarri priorities for managing climate change
    • How these things relate to land, Sea and water Issues; pastoral activities; community Infrastructure and the development of outstation.

    For further information you can listen to a presentation given by Anna Dwyer at The University of Sydney in 2012 at the conference, The Anthropocene – The impact of Climate change on Karajarri Country.  
    Read Anna’s publication on the Nulungu Website
  • Cultural Natural Resource Management (CNRM) Feasibility Study 2015
    Kimberley Development Commission