Mirriwoong Alive! on saving an endangered culture

February 5, 2024
A First Nations radio presenter with studio headphones standing in front of a wall with the radio station logo

Miriwoong Alive! is a radio show and podcast that not only celebrates the culture, language and history of the Miriwoong people – it is on a mission to keep the critically endangered Miriwoong language and culture alive.

Founded on a collaborative partnership between Waringarri Media and the Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring (MDWg) Language & Culture Centre in Kununurra, Western Australia, the show profiles the important ongoing work at the local Language & Culture Centre.

Miriwoong country stretches over 10,000 square kilometres across the North East Kimberley region in Western Australia, and into the Northern Territory.  Amongst the few remaining fluent speakers in the region are the language teachers at the MDWg Language & Culture Centre, who are the rotating presenters on the show: Rozanne Bilminga, Byran Gallagher, Glennis Newry, Che Kelly, and Dianna & Angie Dingle.

The show thrives on a profound collaboration between staff and teachers at the MDWg Language & Culture Centre and Waringarri Media, who are members of the local Miriwoong Traditional Owner community.  Drawing on their extensive local networks to record interviews and stories from the field and in the studio, the team regularly comes together to plan, research, produce and present these stories on the program.  ‘The presenters and contributors are part of the less than 10 remaining fluent speakers of the Miriwoong language with deep historical connections and ties to the region’ explains Waringarri Media’s Station Manager, Fernando de Freitas. ‘They will be our way into this community… to pass down these local stories, perspectives, culture and language to others, so they are not lost, and are kept alive for future generations’ shares Fernando.

Miriwoong Alive! features the life stories of elders and other community members as well as stories about the local landscape – its flora, fauna, animal life, landmarks and sites – and Miriwoong perspectives on its local history, both pre and post colonisation.  Through its unique communal endeavour, the program has become an important voice for the local Miriwoong people on current developments and decisions affecting the community and their way of life.

6WR Waringarri Media was a recipient of CBF’s Specialist Radio Programming Round 1 2023/24.  Funding was provided for First Nations Australians program wages and production costs including film equipment, program materials, subscriptions and news sources, music, staff training, broadcasters expenses and other administrative costs.

Tune into Miriwoong Alive! on Thursdays & Saturdays at 1pm on 6WR Warringa Radio or stream the Podcast episodes on Spotify.

[Photo: Che Kelly, Language Engagement Officer & Miriwoong teacher at the MDWg Language & Culture Centre, Kununurra WA]