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Traditional knowledge and culture celebrated with launch of Masigalgal Seasonal Calendar booklet

Masig’s Elders have recently released a detailed booklet of traditional knowledge and ecological practices, designed to accompany the Masigalgal Seasonal Calendar poster produced in October of 2018.

The information for the Seasonal Calendar poster and booklet was developed over the past couple of years by the Masig community in close collaboration with the Torres Strait Regional Authority’s Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) team and reinforces knowledge about the old customary ways of marking annual seasonal changes.

The booklet expands on the Traditional Ecological Knowledge that was collected during the development of the Masig Seasonal Calendar poster and includes further detailed information on Masigalgal seasons, weather, plants, animals and sea country.

It also explores the cultural activities that are undertaken during the four seasons of Masig Island, known locally as Woerr / Sargerr, Zei, Kuki and Naigai.

TSRA Chairperson, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen, said the Seasonal Calendar booklet includes all of the detailed traditional knowledge information that could not fit into the poster version.

“The Masigalgal Seasonal Calendar Booklet and Calendar were developed collaboratively over an 18-month period by Masig Rangers, Elders, Masigalgal RNTBC and committed community members,” Mr Stephen said.

“The book is testament to the Masig community’s desire to preserve their Indigenous knowledge and to promote and share their cultural heritage with the younger and future generations of Masigalgal and the people of the Torres Strait.

“It is also important to note that the Seasonal Calendar booklet is rich in Kulkulgau Ya language, an endangered language of the central Torres Strait islands.”

Mr Stephen also expressed his appreciation to the Masigalgal Elders, community members, and Traditional Owners for the contribution of their time and cultural knowledge throughout the project in order to share it with other communities across the Torres Strait.

Masig Elder, Mr Moses Mene, said both the Seasonal Calendar poster and booklet are important to the retention and sharing of their cultural practices.

“Traditional Knowledge needs to come from the knowledge and wisdom of our Elders,” Mr Mene said.

“Then we can practice our customs.”

“I want our young people to learn the valuable things I can teach them.”

Highlights of the new Seasonal Calendar booklet are the detailed cultural information provided on the uses and life phases of important Masigalgal plant species Urab (coconut), and Ubar (Wongai), and the preparation of Gasi (Arrowroot) flour in the life of Masigalgal people.

The main elements of the calendar include the predominant seasonal winds and general signs of weather changes as explained by Masigalgal people through their intimate understanding of the islands, marine systems, cloud formations and the star constellations by which they navigated, hunted, gardened and lived alongside nature in their part of the world.

Pictured: Masig Elders, Mr Moses Mene and Mr Wilfred Williams, with some of the Masig Students who will benefit from their traditional knowledge booklet.

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