A Yolŋu ‘Bothways’ approach to English and Warramiri literacy at Gäwa

Ben Van Gelderen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Paper published in Proceedingspeer-review


    In North-East Arnhem Land there are numerous stories concerning the Yolŋu ‘ancestral dog’ Djuranydjura. The most famous concerns his interaction with the Macassans, who established mutually beneficial relationships with Yolŋu over the centuries. Trepang collecting services were traded extensively for articles such as fish hooks, tobacco, knives and cloth (Macknight, 1976). However, in the Djuranydjura story, when the Macassan offers rice and shoes and blankets, the dog rejects them all, in favour of his own land and resources (Warner, 1958; Berndt & Berndt, 1989; McIntosh, 1994). At Gäwa homeland on Elcho Island, this powerful story of identity and ‘defiance in the face of outside intrusion’ (McIntosh, 2003, p. 314) is interpreted to also include the arrival of balanda (white) teachers, and their focus on English literacy. However, it is not that English literacy is devalued, but that it must maintain its proper place; negotiated to sit alongside literacy of the land, and the foundational Warramiri language itself (Guthadjaka, 2013). One approach of applying such a ‘Bothways’ pedagogy through utilising a systematic literacy suite such as ‘Accelerated Literacy’ for both languages and cultures is outlined to demonstrate that synthesis and strengthened identity is quite attainable when teachers and community work together.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationTraders Neighbours and Intruders
    Subtitle of host publicationPoints of Contact. E-proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Australian Council for Adult Literacy
    EditorsSue Shore
    Place of PublicationCanberra, ACT
    PublisherSouth Australian Council for Adult Literacy
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Print)978-0-9953723-4-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    EventAustralian Council for Adult Education Conference, 2017: Traders, Neighbours and Intruders: points of contact - Darwin
    Duration: 12 Sep 201714 Sep 2017


    ConferenceAustralian Council for Adult Education Conference, 2017
    Internet address


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