Kombumerri Traditional Custodian Contributor: Justine Dillon

This resource is related to the following learning areas –

And responds to the following questions –

Q23.Was the Yugumbeh language the main language spoken and which clans used it?
Q24.Were there other dialects of the Yugumbeh language?
Q47.How are sentences structured in the Yugumbeh language?

Resource transcript –

Well, we don’t know for sure if it was Yugambeh language that’s… so, from my childhood up until 2003 we were told we were the wider Bundjalung language nation from our Elders for generations. That’s all that we knew. We didn’t know the name of our language, we just knew we were part of the wider Bundjalung language nation. My Elders said that used to come up to Southport hospital kind of area. It was the boundary. And, then… 2003 we heard about Yugambeh had bought out the language book with Doctor Margaret Sharpe and there was excerpts of our words in there, in brackets in the book, and it’s like K-O-M or see abbreviation in the dictionary to say it was a Kombumerri word in the Yugambeh regional language she made. That’s been out for 20 years now but our Kombumerri… some of our family line, we didn’t agree with that because it’s been applied… now it’s gone from a language to a people group and it’s become a tribal name of this area and it’s become a region concept. Something we never recognised. We didn’t work in regions. We worked locally only. So, we kind of pushed back. I was one of the people under my father’s and Elders’ instruction that that’s not our language. That word, yugambeh, actually meant the word… derivative of yugam, which is our word for no or nothing. So, we essentially became the ‘nothing’ tribe under than banner which… sorry I’d rather be a Kombumerri teredo worm eater than the nothing tribe because I know my cultural identity. I grew up knowing that since I was 6 months old, even though I had teachers, students, other educators telling me my whole life, “You’re too white to be Aboriginal. You’re not Aboriginal.” I’d go home and cry, “Mummy, I’m not Aboriginal.” Well, my mum would go back and I think she formed the ASSPA committee at my school after the first incident that happened to me. But, it’s been a bit of contention for some of us because it’s replacing our identity and my cousins and my family, they don’t know how to articulate it the way I do. I see it as a second coming of assimilation because I’m being forced under someone else’s… what they think my identity should be. But, I know my identity and I’m trying to tell them but no one is listening, so I’ve had to go back to the linguist and ask, so, something needs to change. It needs to be equitable for all of us not just equal. I’m like, we all have our rights and our language and I don’t believe and that’s my language or my people, my group and I don’t want to have it changed after 30 years of knowing what I am to be told I’m something different. And, so, she understood that and, you know, we got into a bit but we always found a resolution because we were professional about it and we want to help everybody in the wider community to find some sort of level of peace because it caused so much more disruption. And, we thought we did. We’re bringing out… we found our lost language, yay, but… and it’s the bits and pieces we know and we’ve had to construct the rest of the dictionary with our neighbouring tribes with the words we didn’t know. But, we’ve got to learn it at the same time as well as teaching it to communities, so that’s going to be a challenge. And, trying to rename the regional concept from Yugambeh to Mibiny. Mibiny, we discussed with the linguist, she decided on this to try and alleviate all our concerns with this new regional concept, if she could rename it mibiny because that’s one word that all the five, six tribes she’s written about and sourced from, it’s one common word we all have and no is. Mibiny is the word for the wedge-tailed eagle and that’s M-I-B-I-N with a silent Y. And her book, I think will be, on the title page Mibinyah cause mibinyah… -yah is the people who say the word mibiny. So, we’re really excited about that. She’s drawn her own little totem, which is a totem from each tribe she’s done the language on and how we all kind of… and Mount Warning as the peak in the background that we all face towards that. Because I found out a lot of our bora rings face Mount Warning for some reason which is interesting facts. So, yeah, there’s so much we’re going to talk about for that.