On the weekends whole families will jump in the car together and go out into the rich Tiwi landscape to hunt and gather native tucker. It's important to sing out for each other because whether you are collecting mussels and shellfish from the mangroves, crabs and oysters from the beach rocks or fishing in a river, watch out for crocodiles!
Dancing or yoi is a part of everyday life on the Tiwi islands. Tiwi inherit their totemic dance from their mother, eg magpie goose or scaly mullet. Dancing plays an important role in ceremonial events, for example, during the Pukumani ceremony the dances performed reflect the relationship to the deceased.
Narrative dances are preformed and can depict everyday life or historical events. The bombing of Darwin has been portrayed through song and dance as have many other significant events. Singing always accompanies dancing and new songs are continually being created.
The Tiwi traditionally paint their body for ceremony using natural earth pigments known as Ochres. This tradition of mark making is the foundation for modern Tiwi art. "For Tiwi people, to sing is to dance is to paint." - Ryan, Judith Art and Australia, 1997
Ceremonies play an important role in Tiwi culture. Considering the fact that the Tiwi culture is an oral one, difficulties arise when trying to write definitely. Each ceremony had its own form, and can vary depending upon the circumstances of the time. However, the present day situation and its effects on these rites has a precedent in past tradition. There are two main ceremonial events performed, an annual one, the Kulama ceremony and the mortuary or Pukumani ceremony.
The Kulama ceremony occurs towards the end of the wet season. Concentric circles often appear as the main element of contemporary Tiwi patterns, representing the Kulama circle or ceremonial dancing ground. The Pukumani ceremony occurs approximately six months after the deceased has been buried. "The Tiwi regard the Pukumani as the most important ceremony in a persons life in the world of the living, and even though the Mobuditi (spirit of one dead) has been released, the persons existence in the living world is not finished until the completion of the ceremony. To the Tiwi the entire focus of the ceremony is on the person now in the grave. This attitude results in the consistent variations in cast and script". Goodale, Jane 1971 Tiwi Wives, University of Washington Press, page 259-260 The performance of this ceremony ensures that the Mobuditi goes from the living world into the spirit world. Prior to the ceremony in laws are commissioned to carve tall totemic poles. These are placed around the burial site during the ceremony. These poles symbolise the status and prestige of the deceased. The Pukumani ceremony allows Tiwi full expression of their grief. It is a public ceremony and provides a forum for artistic expression through song, dance, sculpture and body painting.
Football plays a major role in the social and recreational fabric of Tiwi society. This preoccupation with football started when a bag of rags was given to some Tiwi on Bathurst Island in the 1930s. By 1945, an area has been cleared, goal posts erected and Australian rules football was becoming popular. By 1945 organised games took place between Bathurst Island, Milikapiti and Purlangimpi. During the 1990s the Tiwi Island Football League was formed and currently seven Tiwi teams compete against each other over the wet season from October to March. Every March the Tiwi Football League grand final at Nguiu attracts enthusiastic Tiwi crowds from all communities. The airport is packed with charter planes from Darwin and beyond. This breath-taking environment - brilliant white sand beaches, ochre cliffs, and clear water with abundant sea life - is recounted and celebrated in the art.