Howitt and Fison Papers


hw0436 Notes by Howitt on Omeo 'tribe' and letter from Bulmer



3 8never allow a captured maidento be [taken - crossed out] kept by a man of her ownclass.

Children were always of the same classas their mother. On this point Iam most confident as I was sofamiliar with the whole affair in my early days.

I have known men to have twoor three wives but [they - crossed out] I have been toldthat some had four or five. Sometimesthe parents had a difficulty in gettingtheir daughter married to a properperson within class limits, so thatthey would give [them - crossed out] her to a man whohad one already to obviate thedifficulty. I think [the rule was - crossed out] one wifewas the rule, and the plurality theexception.

A times [sic] where there was a greatgathering at Corroborees wives wereexchanged but always within class limits. But they also resorted tothis practice to avail some [foretold - crossed out] great[calamity - crossed out] trouble when they fancied were impending [as for instance - crossed out] For instance[there was once a great display of - crossed out] [the Aurora Australis and they - crossed out][thought this heralded some great- crossed out][trouble. The cunning old men - crossed out][proposed exchanging wives - crossed out]they heard that a great sickness was travellingdown the Murray and the cunning old men proposed exchanging wive [so they thought then + after - crossed out][in exchanging wives - crossed out] to ensure safety from it.

Yet at all other times [however - crossed out] the men

[written in left side margin][A - crossed out] Personal ills and misfortunes arevery generally regarded as following breech of customsFor instance at Roeburn Sth A a man's hair is supposed to(tūah) (Mr Richardson)

[footnote at the end of the page]Note - This command by the old men may be explained I think by [believing - crossed out] considering that they [considered - crossed out] began using the calamity as a punishment for [departing from - crossed out] disregard of this [?errent?]usage. One of the Darling River tribes near Menindie told me that he considered the rapid extinction of the blackfellows as being causedby their present disregard of the customs of their fathers. AWH

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