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Gelam single work   prose   Indigenous story  
Issue Details: First known date: 1970... 1970 Gelam
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Author's note: 'Dugong, which abound in Torres Strait, are an important source of meat and fat for Torres Strait Islanders. Indeed, were it not for dugong and turtle, the people would have very little meat and fat to eat, because there are no food-animals on their islands except a few pigs which are reserved for feasts. It takes all a man's strength and skill to capture a dugong, for these sea-mammals are big and heavy-bodied and, besides being very sky, have a keen sense of hearing.

'Everyone in Torres Strait knows the story of Gelam. Eastern Islanders, who speak a different language from the rest of the people in Torres Strait, call Gelam's mother Amer. in West Torres Strait and Central Torres Strait everyone calls her Usar.'


  • Story from Mer (Murray Island)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Alternative title: Gelam, Creator of Dugong
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Myths and Legends of Torres Strait Margaret Lawrie , Margaret Lawrie (translator), St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1970 Z416296 1970 anthology prose Indigenous story

    The stories in this collection were obtained at thirteen islands, within the archipelago of the Torres Strait, between Cape York, the northern point of Queensland, and the south coast of Papua New Guinea. The Islanders, despite nearly a century of continuous and increasing contact with European ways and thought, have been able to retain unbroken links with their past. It is these people, who over a period of four years, made a conscious effort to pass on to the general reader, whether they live in Torres Strait or elsewhere, part of their heritage which is embodied in legend and myth. (Source: Introduction by Margaret Lawrie)

    St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1970
    pg. 297
    Note: Portrait of Dela Mopwali.
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Tales from Torres Strait Margaret Lawrie , Margaret Lawrie (translator), St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1972 Z1220908 1972 anthology prose Indigenous story children's This book, with illustrations by Island artists, is a selection from Myths and Legends of Torres Strait, chosen by Margaret Lawrie as of special interest to the young, and in the hope that for children everywhere it will help present an accurate picture of the culture of Torres Strait Islanders, and for the Island children themselves that it will foster a pride in their own identity. (Source: Back cover) St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1972 pg. 3-6
Last amended 17 Oct 2017 09:08:08