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The Djaui, also commonly called the Jawi, are an indigenous Australian people of the Kimberley coast of Western Australia.


Jawi is an almost extinct language, belonging to the western branch of the non-Pama-Nyungan Nyulnyulan family. It is close to Baada.

Social and economic organization

The Djaui were industrious seafaring traders. The Ongkarango furnished them with mandjilal wood for their catamarans, and the Djaui in turn supplied the Baada with this buoyant mangrovial timber for the latter's log rafts.[1] They in turn bartered shells in return for wooden spears from the inland Warwa and Njikena tribes.[2]


Including outlying reefs of the archipelago, the Djaui (iwany-oon('Sunday Islanders'))[3] controlled about 50 square miles (130 km2) of territory, with their centres at Tohau-i and Sunday Island (Ewenu) in the King Sound. To their north lay West Roe. The western limit was Jackson Island.

History of contact

A one-time pearler, Sydney Hadley, a reformed alcoholic who had spent long stints in gaol, set up a mission on Sunday Island in 1899.[4][5]

Towards the end of WW2, H. H. J. Coate, who was engaged in a study of Bardi, took over the running of the mission.[6]

Alternative names

  • Djawi.
  • Djau.
  • Chowie.
  • Djaoi.
  • Tohawi.
  • Tohau-i. (an insular toponym referring to the main island of the Buccaneer Archipelago)
  • Ewenu.
  • Ewanji, Ewenyoon, I:wanja.[7]



  1. ^ Tindale 1974, pp. 57–58.
  2. ^ Tindale 1974, p. 84.
  3. ^ Bowern 2016, p. 283.
  4. ^ McGregor 2013, p. 11.
  5. ^ Hunter 1993, p. 44.
  6. ^ McGregor 2013, p. 16.
  7. ^ Tindale 1974, p. 241.


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