Torres Strait Islanders

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Torres Strait Islanders are the indigenous people of the Torres Strait Islands off Queensland in Australia . Many of them now live on the Australian continent. They have a Melanesian culture and are not related to the Aborigines .


When the European colonization of the Torres Strait Islands began in the late 18th century, it was estimated that 300,000 to more than a million islanders lived. It is assumed that the number of 750,000 residents is roughly correct. The population decline in the 19th and 20th centuries is attributed to disease, land expropriation, and cultural breakdown and dissolution.

There are currently around 6,000 Torres Strait Islanders living in the area around Torres Strait , plus 37,000 more, most of whom live in northern Queensland (as of 2015), for example in Townsville or Cairns .

Each community has its own council on the 100 or so islands in Torres Strait, of which 17 out of 20 communities are inhabited.

Development before British colonization

The Torres Strait Islanders are a people of seafarers who trade with the residents of Papua New Guinea . In contrast to the Aborigines living on the Australian mainland, the Torres Strait Islanders also practice intensive traditional horticulture , which they supplement with hunting and gathering . They were also familiar with dugout boats and bows and arrows, technologies that were also unknown before the Europeans arrived in Australia.


The islanders speak two different languages. On the eastern islands of Darnley Island , Murray Island and Stephens Island , Meriam Mir is spoken and on the western and central islands either Kala Lagaw Ya or Kala Kawa Ya , each a dialect of the common language.

Creole has been widespread since European colonization and in the 19th century the language Pidgine English spread throughout the southwestern Pacific and is now common on the islands.

Culture and economy

The Torres-Strait-Islaner also made a significant contribution to art and culture, but also to the economic development of Australia through the construction of railways and the sugar industry.

The Torres Strait was primarily fished for mother-of-pearl , which was used to make buttons, cutlery, combs, jewelry, and furniture inlays in the United States and Britain. This fishery in the Torres Strait was so successful that half of all shellfish products worldwide came from there. In Torres Strait, around half of the pearl fishermen in 1886 were non-islanders.

Land rights

Probably the best-known Torres Strait islander is Eddie Mabo , who went down in history when he achieved land rights for all indigenous Australians in the 1990s (see Mabo v. Queensland (No. 2) ). This made the previously dominant legal principle of Terra Nullius obsolete.

Well-known Torres Strait islanders

The singer and actress Christine Anu can refer to many successful album releases. She drew international attention through her participation in the closing event of the 2000 Olympic Games , where she performed the song My Island Home , and in 2001 through her role in the musical Moulin Rouge produced by Baz Luhrmann , which won an Oscar . She also won awards from the national music industry organizations APRA and ARIA .

Henry "Seaman" Dan, born on Thursday Island in 1929 , released his first CD in 2000. In 2004 he was awarded a prize for the best world music album by ARIA . He has now earned a reputation that extends beyond Australia.

Wendell Sailor , Sam Thaiday and Brent Webb are rugby league players. Sailor also made merits in the rugby union code. Brent Webb, who is currently playing in England for the Leeds team, also played for the New Zealand national team .

See also


  • Ian Crawshaw: Australia Walkabout - Guide to Aboriginal Australia and Torres Strait Islander. Sabine Muschter Editor of the German edition, Intuitiv media, Kiel 2011, ISBN 978-3-00-029490-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. a b Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ( Memento of October 8, 2006 in the Internet Archive ), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved December 4, 2016
  2. a b c Australian Communities: Torres Strait Islander People ( Memento of the original from February 18, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , from 2015, NSW Government, Department of Education. Retrieved December 4, 2016 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Sibylle Kästner: Hunting foragers and foraging hunters: How Australian Aboriginal women capture animals. LIT Verlag, Münster 2012, ISBN 978-3-643-10903-3 , p. 122.
  4. ^ Stan Florek: Reports of the Australian Museum , from 2005, on Retrieved December 4, 2016.