The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.
Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher is an Elder of the Thaynakwith peoples in the Western Cape York area of far north Queensland. Thancoupie is the only remaining fluent speaker of the Thaynakwith language.
Thancoupie was born at Weipa to Ida and Jimmy James and was given the name Thanakupi at birth. Her mother gave her the name Gloria James at her Baptism. In rediscovering her language, she adopted the name Thancoupie but she also uses the variant spelling Thanakupi. Thancoupie grew up in the small Napranum community and attended the mission school there before studying ceramics in Sydney.
Thancoupie has worked as a ceramic artist, story teller, educator, community leader, advocate, and negotiator. She began telling her community's stories through clay, tile and other ceramic arts. Her life work has been recording the language and stories of the Thaynakwith people. Thancoupie was awarded the 2006 Visual Arts Emeritus Award by the Australia Council for the Arts for her unparalleled career as an Indigenous artist, teacher, and community leader.
2008Queensland Greats AwardsDr Fletcher James has played a vital role in promoting and enhancing the image of Aboriginal culture through art and education. Dr Fletcher James has exhibited her ceramic artworks nationally and abroad, receiving great praise. She established educational facilities and programs for children and she continues to be an ambassador for Indigenous people.