I cant stand by and watch Indigenous languages perish because of indifference and the perversity of policy.

(Children dancing, Milingimbi, 1935 Donald Thomson Yan-nhaŋu Atlas 2014 :154)

Australian and International research in linguistics, cognitive psychology and education convincingly demonstrate that the strength and confidence necessary for Indigenous first language learners to achieve in mainstream education rests squarely on cultural competence in the first language (Cole, M. (1975); Lyster, R.; Mori, H. (2006). This affirmation of the necessity of bilingual, bicultural and bimodal education – supporting the unyielding claims of Indigenous people themselves, is based on overwhelming evidence.

The key problem is the Australian government, their perverse corporate masters, and their education policy. The Commonwealth, and especially the Northern Territory government, continue to deny N.T Indigenous people, and more widely across the north of Australia, adequate and easy access to languages and homelands support and funding. (Quietly “empty” the homelands, ‘closing the gap’, ‘assimilation’- extinction, [for]- frack, and gas, and cattle and mine)

Let me be the first to do something. Got to keep the dream machine turned on. In an unprecedented move to fund our YSL online project for kids in school, I will offer my private copies of the Yan-nhaŋu Atlas and Illustrated Dictionary of the Crocodile Islands and the magnificent Maypal, Mayali’ ga Wäŋa, available for purchase. In exchange for money, I will give the Atlas, or Maypal, to those who would like to own one. There are only a few left so, be quick.

Details at


  1. Sue Howard says:

    Dear Dr. James, I hear your heartfelt plea. I am not able to help financially. So sorry. I do think it is so very important for people to be able to communicate in their own language. It is a gift, a joyful sound which should not be lost. It doesn’t mean they have to reject English as a first or second language but everyone should be allowed their heritage.

    I come from Wales so I am not indigenous although I’ve been here 48 yrs now. The Welsh language was nearly lost from oppression from the English parliament in 18/19 th C. Children were punished for speaking welsh at school and forced to use English. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that people got their act together and realising the loss suddenly took up the cause and now, 50 yrs later, welsh is being valued, taught and spoken again. This happened because the people themselves became the teachers and preservers of the old tongue. Not dissimilar to the diminishing native tongues in Australia although I appreciate that here the many languages must be newly written down for posterity.

    I hope you get the support you need and that the state governments will come to see the value and riches of words and make provision to support your cause.

    I have followed your posts and was so surprised at the beauty of thought and expression of some of the aboriginal texts / sayings you have shared. We know so little about indigenous culture and language.

    I’m sorry I can’t help just now. I pray God bless your endeavours at this time. Thank you for your posts.

    Kindest regards, Sue Howard

    Sent from my iPhone


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