The people of "Mabuiag Island", the Mabuygilgal (in the Torres Strait) are one of the Melanesian Torres Strait Islander populations. They in common with all Torres Strait Islanders had a mixed reputation for hostility as well as eagerness to develop trading links with outsiders before they became Christian in the early 1870s. The language of the island is the Gœmulgau (Mabuylgau) Ya sub-dialect of Kala Lagaw Ya.
The society consists of two moieties ("koey buway"), the Gumuligal of Wagedagam ('Rear-Side') on the northwest (kukidagam) side of Mabuiag (their totem wind and direction), and the Mabuygilgal people of the Paipaidagam ('Near-Side') on the south-east side (sagerdagam), their main totem wind and direction. Sub-buway are those whose wind/direction is the southwest (zeydagam), and those whose totem wind/direction is the north-east (naygaydagam).
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“Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.”
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