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The Torres Strait Islanders are one of Australia’s two Indigenous groups. They are located in the Torres Island Strait, which sits in the body of water between Australia and New Guinea. Islanders have lived there for thousands of years and enjoy a distinct culture and family life that is a result of mixed ancestry and a European Christian influence. For years, the Torres Strait Islanders have fought for recognition, civil rights, and autonomy. They became official Australian citizens in 1967 and were recognized as the first inhabitants of Australia in 2013.
See the fact file below for more information on the Torres Strait Islanders or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Torres Strait Islanders worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
HISTORY OF THE TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS
- The Torres Strait Islander people are one of Australia’s two Indigenous groups (the other being the Australian Aboriginal people).
- The Torres Strait Islanders are from the Torres Strait Islands located in Queensland, Australia as well as a couple communities nearby on the coast of the mainland at Bamaga and Seisia.
- Along with the Australian Aboriginals, the Torres Strait Islanders were the first human inhabitants of Australia with a very deep and personal connection with their traditional lands, waters, and elements of nature.
- They have lived on the islands for thousands of years.
- The Torres Strait Islanders are of Melanesian descent and share common cultural traits with people from Papua New Guinea.
- The islands where the Torres Strait Islander people originate can be split into five distinct groups, each represented by the white star on the Torres Strait Islander flag:
- Eastern (Meriam)
- Top Western (Guda Maluilgal)
- Near Western (Mulaigal)
- Central (Kulkalgal)
- Inner Islands (Kaiwalagal)
- European contact with the Torres Strait Islanders occurred as a result of the discovery of pearl shells in the region in 1870, leading to an influx of foreigners and an exhaustion of natural resources in the area.
- The Torres Strait islands were annexed by the colonial government of Queensland in 1872 and 1879 to control the increasing trouble that began occurring there.
- Christian missionaries began arriving in the area in about 1871, and it was the spread of Christianity that is usually cited as a reason for peace among the island communities. The arrival of the missionaries is celebrated each year on July 1st by the Torres Strait Islanders, called the “Coming of the Light” festival.
- Many islanders are still practicing Christians today.
- Unfortunately, until the 1960s, the Torres Strait Islanders had been stripped of many of their civil rights and freedoms in response to severely restrictive laws.
- Torres Strait Islander people became Australian citizens in 1967.
- The move for greater autonomy in the region gained momentum in the early 1990s with the development of a government task force as well as the examination of case studies to determine whether regional autonomy should be granted, and how.
- Indigenous recognition came in 2013 when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Act of 2013 recognized both groups as the first inhabitants of Australia, and also reflected a commitment to work towards maintaining a peaceful relationship.
THE CULTURE OF THE TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS
- Torres Strait Islander people have a distinct culture that places emphasis on the arts, music, and a strong relationship with the natural world.
- They use rattles and pan pipes as well as drums as musical instruments, sing songs, and Dance. Typical features of their dancing include stomping in rows, wearing elaborate costumes with skirts and masks, and portraying “moving parts” that portray topics.
- Traditional feathered headdresses consist of a row of feathers on an arched cane border with a single black feather on top and a vertical cane across the centre that symbolizes wisdom.
- When hunting and fishing, the islanders use large canoes that allow them to remain at sea for long periods of time and hold a large amount of animals.
- The Torres Strait Islanders have mixed ancestry, including South Sea Islander, Samoan, Chinese, and mainland Aboriginal.
- Traditional islanders homes are distinguished with medicinal and magic plants, like cassava, taro, sweet potato, and banana trees. Outside of the home are clam shells near the entrance. Upon entering, the floors are typically covered with woven mats.
- Totems are integral to the islander culture and can be animals, rocks, winds, or stars.
- Many Torres Strait Islanders are multilingual. There are three distinct languages spoken on the island.
Torres Strait Islanders Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Torres Strait Islanders across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Torres Strait Islanders worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Torres Strait Islanders which are one of Australia’s two Indigenous groups. They are located in the Torres Island Strait, which sits in the body of water between Australia and New Guinea. Islanders have lived there for thousands of years and enjoy a distinct culture and family life that is a result of mixed ancestry and a European Christian influence. For years, the Torres Strait Islanders have fought for recognition, civil rights, and autonomy. They became official Australian citizens in 1967 and were recognized as the first inhabitants of Australia in 2013.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- The Islands In-Depth
- Mapping the Islands
- The Mabo Case
- True or False?
- Islanders Crossword
- Design a Dhari
- The Islander Flag
- Life as an Islander
- Islanders Wordsearch
- Technical Terms
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Link will appear as Torres Strait Islanders Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 18, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.