Wangai

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Wongatha is the name of language group of the Aboriginal people of the North-Eastern Goldfields, it comes from the word meaning “speaker”. The Wongatha people made use of the natural resources within their tribal boundary which borders the biogeographic regions of Coolgardie, South-East Wiluna and the Western half of the Great Victoria Desert.

Wongatha people played an important role in the discovery of gold and supporting early prospectors with information about locally available gnamma holes. They also assisted with early so-called Afghan camel-drivers, instrumental in providing outback gold mining communities with provisions. Many former sheep stations have passed into Wongatha ownership, and traditional art has grown to become a major income to Wongatha communities. It is estimated that there are about 200-300 first-language Wongatha speaking people.

Today their Native Title land rights interests are represented by the Goldfields Aboriginal Land and Sea Council Corporation. Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL), 1997 give the Wangai language the statistical code 8503.[1]

Wangai people played an important role in the discovery of Gold, and in supporting early prospectors with information about locally available gnamma holes (water sources). They also assisted with early so-called Afghan camel-drivers, instrumental in providing outback gold mining communities with provisions. As with Jack Akbar and his wife Lallie, there were a number of Muslim-Aboriginal marriages that resulted from this work[2][3]

Many former sheep stations have passed into Wangai ownership, and traditional art has grown to become a major income to Wangai communities.[4]

It is estimated that there are about 200-300 first-language Wangai speaking people (from the Pintini people) along the northern edge of the Nullarbor Plain around Hughes.[5] (See Pintiini language.)

The Wangai Wongatha-Wonganarra Aboriginal Corporation (WWAC) has been working in association between Curtin University, Aboriginal people of Laverton and the transient European community of about 1,600 people largely working in the mining industry.[6]

In Literature[edit]

The novel The Jimberi Track,[7] by Max Brown tells the story of the trials and tribulations of a group of Wangai tribespeople as they attempt to deal with the encroachment of white settlement, particularly in the form of mining communities, on their lands.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "1267.0 - Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL)". Contents >> Appendix 3. Alphabetic index >> W. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 1997. Retrieved 2007-06-15. 
  2. ^ Rajkowski, P. (1987) "In the Tracks of the Camelmen", (Sydney: Angus and Robertson)
  3. ^ Rajkowski, P. (1995) "Linden Girl: A Story of Outlawed Lives" (Nedlands, WA: UWAP)
  4. ^ Contents
  5. ^ Ethnologue 14 report for Australia
  6. ^ "5.1 Making a difference – Wongatha Wonganarra Aboriginal Corporation". Community: Case studies - Australia. AngloGold Ashanti. Report to Society 2005. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  7. ^ Brown, Max, The Jimberi Track, Australasian Book Society, Sydney, 1966