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Literary Nonfiction. Poetry. Women’s Studies, Native Australian Studies. Forty years ago, letters, words and feelings flowed between a teenage daughter and her mother. Letters written by that teenage daughter—me—handed around family back home, disappeared. Yet letters from that mother to her teenage daughter—me—remained protected in my red life-journey suitcase. I carried them across time and landscapes as a mother would carry her baby in a thaga. In 1978-79, I was living in an Aboriginal girls’ hostel in the Bentley suburb of Perth, attending senior high school. Mum and I sent handwritten letters to each other. I was a small-town teenager stepping outside of all things I had ever known. Mum remained in the only world she had ever known. NGANAJUNGU YAGU was inspired by Mother’s letters, her life and the love she instilled in me for my people and my culture. A substantial part of that culture is language, and I missed out on so much language interaction having moved away. I talk with my ancestors’ language—Badimaya and Wajarri—to honour ancestors, language centres, language workers and those Yamaji who have been and remain generous in passing on cultural knowledge.
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