IF A LANGUAGE dies, it's almost impossible to bring it back.
Australia was home to at least 800 dialects of Indigenous language at the time of European invasion, now just 13 are learned at home by children.
One of those old languages is Anaiwan, a dormant language of the people Indigenous to the New England region reawakened by a dedicated group in Armidale.
Spearheading that campaign is Ambeyan man Callum Clayton-Dixon, who blames frontier wars for the decimation of one of the region's traditional languages.
"I wanted to explain why our language has ended up the way it has, why it's so much worse than Gomeroi [Tamworth region] language," he said.
"The frontier violence that took place up here is fundamentally no different to anywhere else, but with a smaller population if 100 people were killed here it made a massive dent on the people able to pass on the knowledge.
"The millions of cattle up here in the 1840's meant native food resources were quickly depleted, there was a dispersal of the population where Aboriginal people had to learn English."
From about 1830 to 1860, Anaiwan people put up a fierce resistance to white settlers, with acts of violence well-documented in newspapers and squatter's diaries at the time.
It's a big part of Mr Clayton-Dixon's research into frontier violence, that aims to shatter the historical painting of Aboriginal people as helpless victims.
Archival Armidale Express newspapers are just some that documented the killing of convict labourers and the seizure and destruction of thousands of livestock to the point where some settlers were forced to flee the district.
It took three different police units from the coast to drive the Macleay mob toward Armidale and at least 40 years to crush the last part of the resistance, where each region has its own story.
But it was the violence toward Aboriginal people in the area that inevitably damaged Anaiwan language.
Already Mr Clayton-Dixon has mapped 41 incidents of frontier violence in the region.
"There are different records about the violence, there's a story about 50kg of gun power rammed in a log near Inglebar, an Aboriginal reserve where ceremonial fires were lit," Mr Clayton-Dixon said.
"There was a poisoning near Bendemeer where settlers put arsenic in milk and gave it out to the Aboriginal people."
The Anaiwan dictionary has about 500 words, compared to Gumbaynggir on the mid-north coast with 3000 or Dunghutti in the Macleay Valley with more than 1000.
Tamworth's Kamilaroi [or Gomeroi, Gamilaraay] language has several thousand words as well.
With every Anaiwan word that's revived, more is revealed about the ancient culture, Mr Clayton-Dixon said.
"Language isn't just the words, it's the important information held within those words," he said.
"Whether that be knowledge about trees, medicine, the stories and landmarks.
"Language revival is deeply related and connected with the revival of other aspects of our cultural identity."
Community language classes have been run in Armidale and a project to have an Anaiwan dictionary compiled is underway.