December 16, 2014

Maria Stewart is a Yankunytjatjara, Arrernte and Wangkangurru woman who has been working with Dr Paul Monaghan researching the vitality, or state of health of the Yankunytjatjara language outside of the APY lands. This work has taken place in a number of locations in South Australia and Northern Territory, including Coober Pedy, Oodnadatta, Apatula (Finke) and Titjikala (one hour south of Alice Springs). Yankunytjatjara is spoken at all these places and further work is planned to help to strengthen the language situation for this and other less-widely spoken Aboriginal languages of the region. 

Maria grew up at Oodnadatta, and is pictured here on the bank of the Neale just outside the town. No Aboriginal language is currently being taught at the Oodnadatta Aboriginal School. This is a point of some concern for many in the town. According to Maria ‘Yankunytjatjara should be taught at the school. The parents are saying they (the kids) are not listening and not speaking language. They could use some help from the school’. There are many difficulties in getting Aboriginal languages taught in the classroom, but efforts to make this happen at Oodnadatta will be increase in the new year.

Maria will continue her association with the MLT in 2015.