This project draws on Erromango’s artistic and cultural heritage to produce contemporary artwork and traditional stories that celebrate the indigenous connection to the ocean. Erromango is an island of almost 4,000 people who come from a long, turbulent history of tragic encounters with the sandalwood and missionary ships that brought widespread depopulation.
Cultural and linguistic revival has been a long, yet successful process, supported by the Erromango Cultural Association and Natmonuk Simanlou (Island Council of Chiefs) for the past decade.
Indigenous ocean governance for coastal communities such as those on Erromango is topical and timely as wider national efforts to clarify customary land governance systems across all islands in Vanuatu must undoubtedly interface with coastal management.
The objectives of this project are to:
- Preserve and record Erromangan indigenous knowledge (custom stories, custom practices and traditional resource management) of the relationship with the ocean, to inform ocean stewardship led by the Natmonuk Simanlou as it engages with government and private sector stakeholders;
- Promote Erromangan indigenous connection to the ocean through capturing traditional sea/ocean tales and traditional knowledge of ocean governance/coastal resource management in illustrated children’s books in the vernacular (Sye language);
- Engage and empower Erromangan youth in artistic and traditional story-telling workshops to express indigenous connection to the ocean (and contemporary uses/challenges).
The Netai en Namou Toc Project is funded by One Ocean Hub’s DEEP Fund, plus contributions from community volunteers.