We, the younger generation of Ngambri leaders, on behalf of our Ngambri ancestors, elders and descendants, assert the authenticity of our unique Ngambri identity.
The capital city of Australia, Canberra, is derived from the name of our country, Ngambri, and our People: the Ngambri.
While it is true that most Ngambri families have Ngunnawal as well as other ancestry, this does not mean that all those identifying as ‘Ngunnawal’ have rights to Ngambri country or to claim a Ngambri identity.
The term ‘Ngunnawal’ refers to a language that is no longer spoken fluently by any descendants identifying as such and is therefore a superfluous group descriptor.
Ngunnawal was a language once spoken by the neighbouring Wallabalooa (Yass) and Burrooa (Boorowa) peoples. It was not a language spoken by the Ngambri.
Many people claiming to be ‘Ngunnawal’ in modern times have identified with Wiradjuri and other language groups for generations. This is a problem for the Wallabalooa and Burrooa elders to resolve; these people have no connection to the Ngambri.
We humbly request that all references to the ‘Ngunnawal’ are expunged from ACT Government documents, that all ‘Welcome to Ngunnawal Country’ signs are removed, and that the ACT Government’s “United Ngunnawal Elders‘ Council” be disbanded.
We also humbly request that the ACT Government ends the practice of paying non-Ngambri usurpers to conduct ‘Welcome to Country’ addresses.
We, the Ngambri People, will provide the ACT Government with solid evidence of our claims to country, our individual identities, our numbers and other relevant information. We intend to compile a list of traceable descendants of known Ngambri ancestors who lived in the 19th century.
We will then gather together bona fide 21st century descendants and, following a series of internal workshops on revised lore and custom for modern times, we will also advise on the agreements over who can and cannot claim rights to country in the Canberra region.
We ask only for the respect and acknowledgement due to us as bona fide Ngambri descendants and that non-Ngambri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now living in Ngambri country respect our protocols just as we respect yours when we visit or reside in your ancestral countries.
We intend to make peace in particular with the bona fide elders of the Wallabalooa, Burrooa and Pajong groups surrounding Ngambri country as well as with Canberrans of all other ancestries.
We support the ACT Chief Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Group as this group represents and discusses issues affecting all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now living in the ACT.
Like all Canberrans, we wish to make the world a better place for our children and to ensure we maintain our ancestral identity for the sake of future generations.
We believe this is important for all Canberrans because, without the Ngambri, the capital city would truly have no soul.
Ngambri children receiving their certificates of achievement for their participation in the production of the
Tales From Ngambri History early childhood readers, December 2003.
From left to right: Ruby and Leah House, Reuben House, Dylan Williams, didgeridoo player Paul House,
Robert Williams, George House, and Travis and Jacinta Williams.
Photo by Martin Jones reproduced courtesy of The Canberra Times.