Mangala people

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The Mangala are an Indigenous Australian people of Western Australia. The Mangala people traditionally lived in the north-western area of the Great Sandy Desert, west of the Karajarri people, east of the Walmajarri, with the Juwaliny and Yulparija to the south.[1] At present many Mangala people live in Jarlmadangah and Bidyadanga.

Mangala language

The Mangala language is one of the 17 languages of the Pama-Nyungan family, and is classified in the specific subclass of the Marrngu languages.[2][3] Two dialect varieties of their tongue are attested, Kakutu/Kakurtu and Ngulatu/Ngulartu. Mangala is an endangered language, with less than 20 native speakers according to a 2002 census.[1] The Pallottine Catholic priest Father Kevin McKelson (1926–2011), known to the 5 tribes whose languages he mastered as Japulu (father) compiled the first dictionary of the language in 1998, a work which formed the basis for a dictionary co-authored with Albert Burgman in 2005.[1][4][5]

History of contact

The Mangala, like the Walmajarri, Wangkatjungka and Nyigina. were bundled together by the early white colonizers as a "desert mob" because of the arid territory they lived in.[6] Starting from around 1885, when pastoralists began to use their territory for grazing stock, many men from the Mangala tribe were rounded up to work as jackaroos, in exchange for an annual pay of, according to native tradition, a pair of boots, a shirt and trousers.,[7] a situation that descendents say persisted until the 1967 referendum and constitutional amendment by the Holt Government established the principle of equal pay, after which many lost their jobs.[7]

Native title

In 2014, in a decision handed down by Justice John Gilmour of the Federal Court of Australia, the Nyikina-Mangala people were granted native title to 26,000 square kilometres of territory extending from the King Sound through the Fitzoy Valley to the Great Sandy Desert.[8]

Notes and references



  • "AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia". AIATSIS.
  • "Tindale Tribal Boundaries" (PDF). Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Western Australia. September 2016.
  • Burgman, Albert; McKelson, Kevin (2005). Mangala Dictionary and Topical Finderlist. Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. ISBN 978-1-875-94621-1.
  • "A Brief History". Kimberley Dreamtime Adventure Tours. 2016.
  • "After 18 years, Traditional Owners of the Fitzroy River get native title". Kimberley Land Council. 29 May 2014.
  • McGregor Jones, William (2001). "The verb HAVE in Nyulnyulan languages". In Baron, Irène; Herslund, Michael; Sørensen, Finn. Dimensions of Possession. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 67–84. ISBN 978-9-027-29801-0.
  • McGregor, William B. (2013). The Languages of the Kimberley, Western Australia. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-465-01997-7.
  • Mills, Vanessa (29 November 2011). "The loss of Father Kevin McKelson keenly felt in Kimberley communities". ABC News.
  • Toussaint, Sandy (1999). "Kimberley Peoples of Fitzroy Valley, Western Australia". In Lee, Richard B.; Daly, Richard Heywood. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers. Cambridge University Press. pp. 339–342. ISBN 978-0-521-57109-8.
  • "Mangala". Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. 2016.
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