Pormpuraaw Art & Culture Centre Inc.

Culture and Community

Our Art is a Bridge from our Culture and Community to the outside world.

                   Pormpuraaw is a Thaayorre Village. People have lived here since the dream time.  We are still here today. The word "pormpuraaw" means "entrance way" to a house in Thaayorre language. We have our own languages, culture and laws. Thaayorre people are saltwater people. People who have always lived along this coastline. Kugu  and Wik people have also always lived in this country. These are freshwater people that came from the interior living along rivers and waterholes. They would come to live along the coast through marriage to Thaayorre people. Other Mungkan tribes moved here after the white man came. The first real contact and settlement was in 1938. Missionaries came and built a church, school and started farming. Many people were forcibly removed and made to work for no or little wages. This lasted two generations. Men were often made to be drovers for the cattle business and women were made to be cooks and domestic servants. Our people were scattered all over the Cape but have never forgotten who they are and the importance of country.  Every water hole, river bank and section of bush land has a traditional owner. It is still that way today. Most people in the community speak 3 to 4 tribal languages plus English. We still fish with nets spear and line. We use dogs and spears to hunt  pig and wallabies.  
The First White man to settle here was named John Chapman. He like this place because he found good drinking water. The missionaries came and learned our language first and then taught us English. For a long time they grazed cattle and tried to earn a living from the land in this way.  We do not do that anymore but wild cattle still rome free. The government ran our community until the 1970's. White man laws were changed and aboriginal people were counted in the censes and given voting rights. Than we established our own council governments. 

Our Art Centre was started in 2005 by Irma Ashwin and our elders. They saw it as a way to help preserve culture and create an export industry. It is a way for a us to stay on the land and earn a living. Pormpuraaw is blessed with many talented artists. 

We maintain a "Keeping Place" for significant artefacts, art works and historical photos for the benefit of the community. We record oral history in digital format. Modern technology is a tool for preserving and sharing our culture. Our centre is open to everyone. All are invited to come and "give it A go".