Gälpu

The homeland of the Gälpu clan is Gikal. Gikal is situated on a mangrove beach along the Nalawarung Straights. Gälpu people live at Yirrkala, Galiwin’ku, Goulburn Island, Gunyuŋarra, Gäṉgaṉ and Galupa. They are part of the Dhuwa moiety. The Gälpu speak the Dhaŋgu language and their surname is Gurruwiwi.

Gälpu sings the origin story of the Dhuwa instrument yiḏaki (didjeridu). Djalu Gurruwiwi was a famous yiḏaki player, maker, and spiritual keeper. Mithinari Gurruwiwi was an important artist of the 1960s and contributed to the Yirrkala Church Panels. Guwanbaḻ Gurruwiwiis an acclaimed singer and co-creator of the Djari Project, which fuses traditional song with contemporary classical music. In a conversation with Andrew Grimes, Guwanbaḻ described his family line:

First, I will mention our Gälpu forefathers, the old people. Gurruwiwi was my great-great-grandfather, my father’s father’s father’s father, whom I call wäwa (brother). And Gurruwiwi’s son was Marraṯuwa, and then Marraṯuwa’s sons were named Monyu and Mithinari. I, Guwanbal, am from Monyu’s male line. Of course, there were many other Gälpu people back then, but I’m talking about myself, and I am one of Marraṯuwa’s descendants. My father was Monyu’s son Dhaluwuma, that was his “big” (important ancestral) name, and his “smaller” everyday name was Miŋi, and also, Babamiku. I am his son, Miŋi’s son. That is how it is, the Gälpu line from their sons and to our sons, our grandchildren.

This clan’s spiritual themes most importantly include Wititj. Wititj is an ancestral rainbow snake that calls forth the power of storms through its colors. Banumbirr, or morning star, the morning star (the planet Venus) connects Burralku (the Dhuwa land of the dead) with the Djan’kawu Sisters and Wurrkadi (the larvae of the Horned Beetle). Bol’ŋu appears as the Thunderman, or the embodiment of wet season clouds. The Banumbirr and Bol’ŋu narratives are shared with other Dhuwa clans.