Kuiku-Garka are traditional language words in the dialect of Kala Lagaw Ya from the Western Islands. Kuik [u] meaning head and Garka meaning person or man therefore these words refer to the head-man or chief of the village.
Only in times of large-scale warfare did the need for an individual island leader arise. On these occasions, the most outstanding warrior became the island’s leader and assumed command, in order to repel invaders or to lead raids for either retaliation or aggression.
During times of peace, village elders or headsmen were responsible for such things as maintaining tribal traditions and codes of behaviour, overseeing day-to-day life and educating youths in rituals, ceremonies and responsibilities of adult manhood within their community.
Photo: Michael Marzik.