Mary Elizabeth Moreen - the Queen of Milikapiti

Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association

Skin: Wantaringuwi (Sun)
Country: Purumpanali
Dance: Yirrikapayi (Crocodile)

Mary was born in the bush between Mudlow and Purumpunali beach on Melville Island. Alie and Polly Miller were her parents. Alie Miller was a strong culture man who was the leader for ceremonies in the area. When Mary was 5 or 7 years old she was taken to the mission on Bathurst Island.

She returned aged 18, to Milikapiti on Melville Island. Mary believed her parents where dead but when she arrived her father took her to a Kulama ceremony. He taught her how to dance and she listened to her father singing songs. She did not understand them at first because she had only learnt English. Later Alie and Polly taught her to speak Tiwi and to understand the songs.

Mary has lived at Milikapiti ever since and is a traditional owner of the area. She has been a regional council member for ATSIC.

At Jilamara she paints on paper and canvas and draws on memories of her father’s paintings as well as finding inspiration in the rich natural harvest of the island by painting yinkiti (bush tucker) and mirrijini kapiwarta (bush medicine).