Mossman art group brings Kuku Yalanji language to youths


Karlie Brady


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Alison Creek working on her art and Margaret Rocky painting in the background. Image: Supplied.

As Newsport’s Indigenous Business Month series draws to a close, we take a look at a local community development group who are creating and selling children’s Indigenous language books.

The Muruku Art Group, a community development program of the Mossman Support Services has created early reading books in the local Kuku Yalanji language.

The readers have been created by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to help preserve their language as well as teach it to the next generation.

Community Development Officer at Mossman Support Services, Jill Bradley, said the group has recently published two books in hard copy and audio e-publications, extending from the four books they created two years ago.

“The books are about retrieving, maintaining, preserving, and protecting Indigenous language by ensuring children have access to culturally appropriate material,” Ms Bradley said.

“The booklets contain simple and grammatically correct sentences in Kuku Yalanji with illustrations provided by talented local artists.”

Ms Bradley said the project has been a collaborative effort involving many members of the community.

“There are five or six key people who have developed the program, regularly meet with the Kuku Yalanji Language Advisory Group (KYLAG) and they determine if the language is correct.”

Ms Bradley said the idea for the books came from the Muruku group who decided they wanted to share their stories.

“The Muruku group chooses what the theme for the book is going to be, then does the artwork, after that the words are put to the artwork before one of the elders sits down with the group and works out the language, finally it is endorsed by KYLAG,” she said.

The voice of local Indigenous elder, Clare Ogilvie, was then recorded to bring the stories into an audio format.

“It’s been really good to have a program that you see has effective outcomes for the community and young readers and it’s really important that the correct language is shared and is not forgotten,” Ms Bradley said.

The books are now on sale to the public with Mossman State School being one of the first to take a delivery.

“The primary school is now teaching the language from the books in the early years of the school,” she said.

The Muruku group has ideas to develop more books in the future which they plan to share with other schools in our region.

“It is important to teach and preserve the language and not to lose it and the best way to do that is to teach it to young people.”

“We will eventually have an audio PDF on our website so people can go online and download it.

“All the books will be uploaded to the National Library Electronic Deposit system so they can be accessed anywhere in the world,” Ms Bradley said.

For further information about the early learning readers visit or contact Mossman Support Services on 4098 2836.

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