• Yalinji woman Deline Briscoe. (NITV)Source: NITV
The Yalanji people have protected the Daintree for thousands of years and will continue to do this for thousands of years to come.
Deline Briscoe, Burrigari

6 Jul 2017 - 12:23 PM  UPDATED 16 Jan 2020 - 3:10 PM

Firstly I acknowledge and pay respect to my ancestors both past and present, then to all Bama elders and future leaders.

Ngayu Yalanji Jalbu. Ngayu Gugu Yalanji

I am a Yalanji Woman. I speak Yalanji.

The Yalanji dialect is spoken from the Annon River (Nth Boundary) to Mowbray River (Sth Boundary), from the Great Dividing range (Wst Boundary) and as far East as the intercontinental shelf in the Pacific. These are our boundaries as told to me by one of my leading elders, holder of a far deeper knowledge passed through to him from many generations. Borders defined by rivers, significant ceremonial sites, mountains and even the depths of the ocean floor were once lands that our people walked.

In 1788 our borders were crossed, new borders were made and since then, countless men, women and children were inhumanely killed and stolen for many generations, but... Our Bloodlines have stood the test of time as we have had to stand strong and proud within these borders protecting everyone in them, from the (greenant) to the wumba (native bee) from the guyu (fish) to the juku (trees) we are the protectors, law respecters and overseers of the balance of nature.

These days some may not see our language and knowledge as being still relevant, but this responsibility has been ours from the beginning of time. 

Recently, I was featured in a social media campaign on the NAIDOC theme 'Our Languages Matter'. I spoke in Yalanji and translated some of those words for others to learn a little about my language, then of course there were a few cheeky comments online about my speaking Yalanji. The one that stood out to me the most was an FB User: "Useful if you're in the Daintree"

So I decide to turn a negative into a positive because the ignorance of that one person lead to me to begin to understand that it is my duty to learn my Language & culture then pass it on. 

"Our Bubu"

We are Yalanji from the Daintree Rainforest, known to us as - Burunggu, Julaynwarra, Bubunggu, the spiritual birth and resting place of the Yalanji Speaking east coast Bama. 

Our Bubu is 180 million years old! That is tens of millions of years older than the Amazon!!

Our Bubu is home to the Yalanji speaking people have been entrusted with the job to protect this country. 

Our Bubu has had our protection for over 40,000 years, We looked after her and she looks after us.

Our Bubu also includes the underwater ecosystem of our part of the Great Barrier Reef.

Our Bubu is the Pride of our culture, our knowledge is the culture of our people, our culture is in the language we speak.

Our Bubu.

So here we are up in the Daintree the "Yalanji  Bama" - we are part of the Bama groups of North East Coast First Nations people, speakers of the Yalanji dialect and holders of knowledge for everything within our borders. Borders not made by man, but entrusted to us by our creators. We used to battle with other Bama, but now it seems we east coast Bama have to fight together. We forge alliances to fight in a political battle to protect our mother from a seriously dangerous threat that has been ongoing since colonisation.

I can’t imagine the catastrophic impact on our planet had it not been for the maintenance of the Daintree Rainforest. However since 1788, the complete disregard for the laws that were made in the Yalanji language have led to the unprotected areas becoming under threat of climate change and human greed. Yalanji language holds the key to the health and balance of this natural time capsule of botanical development.

We are the Yalanji, Original Border protectors of the Daintree Rainforest & Great Barrier Reef.

NITV presents a selection of dedicated programming, special events and news highlights with a focus on encouraging greater understanding of Indigenous Australian perspectives on 26 January. Join the conversation #AlwaysWasAlwaysWillBe