Howitt and Fison Papers


hw0167 Draft Howitt to Benson



Draught letterto Miss May BensonBrenda StationGoodooga NSW


I hope that you will not consider mea nuisance by again writing on the subject ofthe "Marriage Rule" in the Mūrawari tribeBut my excuse may I hope be your great kindnessin making earlier enquiries and the fact thatthe "Marriage Rule" is a subject upon whichI am now compiling information for animportant communication to the Anthr. Inst. of GtBritain.Since I last wrote I have been for a few daysat Wentworth where I had an opportunityof interrogating two very old but yet intelligentaborigines. The man singular to [??] bears the nameof "Doctor John Benson" - I am told because in the early days of settlement - some half a century ormore ago, he [??] Dr John Benson up theDarling to seek some new new country. Is it possiblethat he was some relative of yours?I obtained some very interesting information as to theirmarriage rules [in the- crossed out] of the Wembaio people to whommy informants belong, it being almost the same as thatof the Dieri which I explained in my letter of 12/7/06.What I wish now to explain is the manner inwhich I questioned them on it may be of use to you, shouldyou feel induced to attempt the task.We were sitting on the bank of the Murray [not far f - crossed out]near their camp + not far from the [Junc- crossed out] Darling junction.I compiled the Diagram by using little bits ofthe dry river mud to represent men and little bitsof charcoal to represent the women.I first put down the piece of mud representing [the -crossed out] Doctor andthen the piece of charcoal representing Lucy the wife. Then I putdown a piece of charcoal to represent the woman 4 on your diagram, the sister of Doctor; then a piece of mud to representthe man 2 her husband, [who -crossed out] the brother of Lucy - 3 -They fully understand this after a little discussion.Then I put down a piece of charcoal to represent 5 - that is her daughter, and a piece of mud to represent a son ofher sister 4 and the husband 2.

Last edit 20 days ago by ALourie


When they had mastered this I askedcan that boy and that girl marry?The reply was emphatically no!My next step was to indicate 7 and 8of your Diagram; and when they fullyunderstood who these were I asked "couldthat boy and that girl marry?"The reply again was "No! not like it that".I then said "Where can that boy (No 7) geta wife?"Lucy [then said - crossed out] who speaks good Englishthen said "Where Uncle to [my - crossed out] mother belongto me" ? "I then ascertained that by this shemeant her "mother's, mother's brother"To bring this relationship into view Irearranged the diagram thus:[diagram] 1 Grandmother brother 4[Lucy - crossed out] 2 mother daughter 5 - son x[daughter - crossed out] 3 daughter (Lucy) son (Doctor) 6

When they had grasped [this - crossed out] these relationshipsI said "Lucy - which way you got husband?"She said "Like it this - my husband onebelonging to my mother's uncle, always like it that."I then said "that not right - that feller, son belonging to your mother uncle, man, might beold feller, not boy." She said not always -plenty boy too!" This was no doubt correctbecause the man "x" [being one - crossed out] would be one of a group the individuals of which might be of any age.I thought that Doctor was a second husband -he being about 70 + she about 65 - and I said"When you get him first husband?"The reply was "Doctor my first husband - noother." He take [??] me when he young man.I have not yet found a rule exactly like this but it is merely a [??] variationof the Dieri rule which I [?explained?]

[written in left side margin][??] out a [??] [??]+ explained the way I used diagrams

[written in right side margin]Now referring to the Mūrawari tribe the following proposition and [?they?] [?justified?](1) The marriage rule cannot start with the children of [?two?] brother or [?two?] sisters because thenchildren are brothers and sisters.(2) I may start from the children of a man and then of his sister - [?adding?] to the Diagram(3) If not so then it could only be between those who cannot have either of these descents.I think that in my letter of 12.7.06 I gave you [a lecture - crossed out] a hypothetical diagram found in the four sub class namesin which the marriage between "7 m muru-Tom and "8 f Bullia - Polly - is [??] to the class law. The question then remainswhat is the small group of the "Bootha" women (a 1/4th of the women of the tribe) from which 7 m mur-Tom may have a wife?

Last edit 22 days ago by ALourie

hw0175 Percy to Howitt 20/12/1907



Police Station, Wentworth20 December 1907A. W. Howitt, Esq.,Metung, VictoriaDear Sir,I have long been delayed in tending to your inquiry of the 6th ult. longer than expected, one reason having sev-erely sprained my ankle have been unable to get about forsome three weeks.

From inquiries made locally amongst the survivingaborigines, I find that all they know about the terms"Mukwara" and "Keelpara" are that they signify some degreeof afinity [sic], but it is said some of the Aborigines can tellupon sight on meeting a stranger if he or she belongs toeither definition. Dan Limbery and Lucy say that they haveheard this stated but that they cannot say so of theirselvesDan Limbery says he remembers Mr. Richards being aboutMenindie 4 or 5 years ago, thinks he came from Ballarat,Limbery remembers talking to Richards about these mattersand from what he and others say Richards has slightlyaltered the sound or meaning of the terms used, as itappears from the Rufus up the Darling as far as Wilcanniaand Louth the blacks speak a language known as "Marra-Yowera" meaning "True word" (this refers to the langauge spoke). "Maraura" is not the correct pronunciation.In the area mentioned above there were many tribes such as the "Kandel-ko" or Kandel lake tribe, near Menindie"Muthring-ko" a River tribe near Tolarno"Barkingy" a River tribe near Weinteriga"Wombeegie" was a general term meaning tribes residinghigher up the River Darling as now known"Kungarlie" a general term meaning tribes residing lowerdown the Darling river. Both terms beingsynonymous with the terms "Northern" or"Southern" peoples or tribes.I am. dear Sir, Yours trulyPercy FortescueSegt of Police

Last edit 12 days ago by ALourie
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