Stars of Tagai: The Torres Strait Islanders

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Aboriginal Studies Press, 1993 - History - 321 pages
"Stars of Tagai" creates a picture of a unique sea culture rich in meanings and custom. The author's observations of Islander life over the past fourteen years join with the life stories of Islanders so giving depth to the book's theme: how conservation of cultural tradition underlies a process of renewal. The rhythm of Islanders' lives follows the movement of the constellation Tagai, a mythical hero who stands in a canoe; his left hand, the Southern Cross, holds a fish spear. The stars of Tagai usher in seasonal changes and are a guide to voyaging and cultivating throughout the Torres Strait. The book explores four meanings of the Tagai myth in the life of the Islanders since the mid-nineteenth century. Its main focus is a growing identity and self-awareness. This is the first book to examine the social issues involved in the historic Mabo case and to give a picture of the fabric of life of the Mariam people of the Murray Islands, a subgroup of the Torres Strait Islanders. It considers local historical precedents for current moves for political autonomy, examines the various reasons behind moves for sovereignty in the 1980s, and considers future options.

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About the author (1993)

Nonie Sharp is an honorary research fellow at the School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University.

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