Seasonal calendar in Torres Strait draws on deep cultural knowledge

Students at Tagai State College are gifted the Masigalgal seasonal calendar.

Masigalgal elders have gifted a seasonal calendar to students on Thursday Island, which distils knowledge from their intimate understanding of marine systems, cloud formations and star constellations.

Elders Mr Moses Mene and Mr Ned Mosby, along with community member Mr Percy Misi, shared the calendar with students from Tagai State College and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, in the hope that it will become a cultural learning tool and will foster interest in traditional knowledge, language and culture.

The calendar, released in October 2018, focuses on the seasonal winds and general signs of weather changes.

Masigalgal Elder, Moses Mene, said the calendar details their traditional way of life.

“It is important for them to know, so they can practise this way of life themselves and understand more of their cultural knowledge. This calendar is for all the children of Torres Strait, not just Kulkulgal children, to learn our language and culture,” Mr Mene said.

The calendar was developed by the Masig community with contributions from the Torres Strait Regional Authority’s (TSRA) Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) team.

Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) Chairperson, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen, said the seasonal calendar made an excellent gift for students at the schools and other learning organisations across the region.

“The TEK program was set up by TSRA’s Land and Sea Management Unit (LSMU) in response to concerns from many Traditional Owners that Indigenous cultural knowledge about their natural environment understanding being lost to the island’s younger people,” said Mr Stephen.

“The LSMU’s solution was to develop an electronic database system with appropriate cultural protections, that community members can access to record their traditional knowledge with confidence.”

“The common knowledge learnings gathered for the database were then reproduced as a poster that tells the story of how the people from Masig Island in the central Torres Strait have survived and thrived off the land and sea since time immemorial.”

Mr Stephen emphasised his appreciation and gratitude towards the Masigalgal elders, community members and Traditional Owners involved in the creation of the calendar, for their significant and generous contribution of traditional knowledge.

In the coming months, a Masig seasonal calendar booklet will also be released to include additional cultural seasonal information that was captured and stored in the TEK database.

 

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