Introduction / History The Galela live in northeast Halmahera and on Morotai, Bacan, and Obi Islands. In 11 villages around Lake Galela, several thousand Galela speak the Kadina target dialect. Historically the Galela were sea-faring pirates who engaged in slave trade and manned war canoes for the Sultan of Ternate. In modern times they are subsistence farmers and fishermen. The main cash crop is copra. Some people specialize in carpentry, masonry, and other part-time industries or work in government offices.
In the year 2000, most became displaced refugees due to civil war. Over 5,000 people are said to have died in North Maluku. Many of the Galela have begun to cautiously return to their lands near the end of 2002. The Galela are 60% Muslim and 40% Christian. There are underlying strata of syncretized animism in the practice of both religions. The Galela people are loosely organized socially, but have a fierce ethnic pride. The language of the home is Galela, at least for adults. In Duma village, children learn North Moluccan Malay first and eventually begin to learn Galela around age 8 or 9, since it is needed for social and ethnic identity. In other villages, Galela is learned first.
Most church services had been conducted in some level of Indonesian, but mid-week home services were often conducted in the vernacular. A volume containing Genesis and the New Testament in the Galela language was dedicated September 26, 2002, and a national team is now distributing the 6,000 copies and training church leadership to use it in their ministry and church services. The desire is to hold the entire worship service in the vernacular. Funding is still needed for the team to hold both a workshop for a group training of these church leaders and a seminar to ttrain them in one-on-one evangelism.
Maluku Utara Province, Halmahera island; Pulau Morotai regency, 2 islands, Rau and Morotai island except for coastal areas east and southwest of Mount Baratai; Halmahera Utara regency, Galela bay, north to northern tip of island, scattered communities east of Galela town; Halmahera Selatan regency, Bacan and nearby islands, Obit, Kasiratua, and Mandioli, coastal areas inland; Bisa island, Koto Wonto area, and Obi island: 2 north coast enclaves around Laiwai and Sesepe, and 2 south coast Woi Lower and Wui. (Source: Ethnologue 2016)