The ancient story of a Creation Ancestor provides an important botanical and ecological map for the Nyikina people of Western Australia that is still relevant today.

2 July 2019

SharingStories Foundation has worked with senior knowledge holders, Nyikina Mangala Cultural Custodians and the broader Jarlmadangah Community in the West Kimberley region for many years to help record and creatively interpret the story and knowledge of ‘Woonyoomboo’ – The Night Heron.

 

The Woonyoomboo Project began in 2006 when SharingStories Founder Liz Thompson and Annie Nayina Milgin, a Senior Nyikina Cultural Custodian, collaborated on a print version of the story. 

Annie shared the story as it was passed to her by her father Darby Nangkiriny. It tells of how Woonyoomboo brought the Nyikina world into being and where he lived and travelled. Woonyoomboo named and created all things for the Nyikina people, including the mighty Fitzroy River. He left language, law, ceremonies, dance, kin and skin relationships and vast libraries of knowledge in an epic Songline as he travelled. 

The Woonyoomboo Project continued to evolve. Since 2013 participants in SharingStories Digital Storytelling Program on Nyikina Country have been bringing the story to life using a wide range of digital arts media skills transferred during programs. 

A vibrant, engaging community-produced multi-touch book interpretation of the story has been created under the guidance of Senior Knowledge Authorities. 

Filled with important Nyikina teachings about Country, Law, and Ceremony, the book contains original artwork, animations, soundscapes, songs, language and spoken word versions of the story of Woonyoomboo in both English and Nyikina. 

It includes a dynamic interactive map with drone footage, songs, photographs and drawings relating to 26 important sites. More than 50 songs were recorded, some of them collectively recalled and remembered as senior community members travelled on Country together. 

Over 100 Nyikina senior custodians, young people and community members have joined together with the SharingStories Foundation to produce and distribute this unique insight into Nyikina Country, culture and language. 

 

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