Howitt and Fison Papers


XM690_ICDMS_lowres The organization of Australian tribes



A arrow at p 6

Yorke Peninsula in South Australia between the Spencer's Spencers Gulf & the Vincents Gulfs Vincent's Gulf was once occupied by a tribe which called chief Adja-dūra meaning

[but?] with many of the coast tribes its organization differed considerably [crossed out - in] from that of the [crossed out - two class] tribes of which the Dieri is the type and [crossed out - which] where two classes Materi and Kararu extended southwards from Lake Eyre following the [crossed out - hill] [crossed out - country to] Flinders Range to the head of Spencers Gulf and thence following the western shore of the Gulf of the St Vincent to Port Lincoln (1). The adjadūra had four classes which [(1) quote]in fact were major totems [crossed out - Kari] each with a group of sub totems and each major totems inhabited one of the four [word crossed out] districts into which Yorke Peninsula was initially divided. The only restriction upon marriage depended upon nearness of Kinship [according?] to their (classification) system. Nor was there any restriction based upon locality as was the case with the Kurnai tribe previously mentioned. This remarkable exception to the almost universal primitive rule of Australian tribes was insisted upon firmly by the old men any whom were two who [two words crossed out] were probably [word crossed out] both over 70 years of age in 18 - ? and who it was spoke of times being before the advent of white people in their country. [three words crossed out] The exceptional development of the class system was also connected with the descent of the totem names in the male line. [Six words crossed out] It seems to be the case as explained in # - that the social organization of coast tribes has been in very many instances peculiar and much frequent [tending?] totems [?] [?] ultimate result namely the breaking down of the class system, [2 words crossed out] and of group marriage, the establishment of individual marriage and male descent and when the [Crossed out totem] class or totems have survived the localization of these in [crossed out - themarrriage in which they ? ?] separate [?]. The [subject?] tribe [crossed out - briefly] [?] shows the [crossed out - class] [?] organization of this tribe

[Table with 3 columns][Column headings] Classes; Totems; DistrictsColumn Class: Kari = Emu; Column 2 Totems: [Miduaga?] = Swallow, Lark - Waldaru; Polára = mullet; Waltha = [?] turtles; Mŭrtū = Magpie Kŭdli; [wiuta?] = mopoke [doj?]Column 3 Districts: Kŭrnara; the northern part of the Peninsular south of Wallaroo, Kadina & [?]

Column 1 Classes: Waui = Red Kangaroo Column 2 Totems: All the totems - togetherwith the major totem are coastal

Column 1 Classes: [Wiltu?] = Eaglehawk:Column 2 Totems: Wortu = wombats; [Wueda?] = wallaby; [Nantri?] = Kangaroo; [Mūlta?] = Seal; Gūa = crowColumn 3 Districts: Wari; Western half of coastal part of peninsular

Column 1 Classes: [Wilithiethu?] = sharkColumn 2 Totems: [Snai?] = wild goose; [Willi?] = Pelican; [Kangbŭra?] = Butter fish; [Manditu?] = Stingray; [Walaltu?] = WhitingColumn 3 Districts: Dilpa The extreme southern part of the peninsular

Last edit about 1 month ago by Christine



[Two words crossed out] This system of which the Dieri [crossed out - is represented by the]classes and totems + are an example extends over an immense area and only surrounding Lake Eyre butalso extending up the Barcoo River probably at least as far as ? [crossed out - Mt ?ilt] in the N. west of Lake Eyre to [no name recorded] where as [?] Spencer tells us (2) it is replaced by the four class system of the - [no name recorded] tribes. A from p 18A To the southward it extended down the Flinders Ranges [crossed out - and back] to near Port Augusta and has been recorded at Port Lincoln (3). [crossed out - overall these ext] Then the clan names Materi and Kararu cover an area -[no area given] miles - [no area given] miles. In table Appendix A are given the [identitie?] and variation in the totems of each class name for a number of tribes.

To the South East the Kararu and Materi do not extend beyond the range of the [Yantru wunta?] tribe whose limits [?] may be simply definded by the Grey/Grey Range and Barrier Ranges.

To the Eastward of the limit there is a similar great area occupied by allied tribes having a two clan organization, the classes being Muthwara and Kilpara with assorted totems.

This area [crossed out - carved by] may be defned as extendiing to the Warrego River to some distance East of the River Darling and for some distance both above and below the Junction of the Darling/Darling River & Murray/Murray River (4).

The class and totem system of these tribes are illustrated by the following [crossed out - taken from] which [?] in the Wily (1) a tribe occupying the counry about the Grey Range, Kingsgaite (2) occupying the country N & S of Cadell Ranges Būlali (5) (3) Boolati occupying the Barrier Range country, and (4) TongarauKa (6) occupyingte country about Momba, Tarella, Wonominta & [Yandarlo?] including the Dunbury Range.

[Left margin notes]+ Were it not that the word totem has been so long established in the English language and that it has a meaning wuite apropriate to the Australian facts, I [ful?]temped to introduce the Dieri word "murdu" as correct.

(2) quote this work(3)sent to [Mehelmi?](4) See as to local organization of these tribes p 14.(5) From Būlali - a hill(6) Tongarauka = Hillside or "under a hill"

[Table][Column 1] Class divisionsMūKwara[Column 2] TotemsBilyara - EaglehawkTirlta - KangarooBūrKūma - BandicootKultapa - DuckKarni - Frilled lizardYaranga - opossumKurli - dog

[Column 1] Class divisionsKilpara[Column 2] TotemsKulthi - EmuTūrū - carpet snakenamba - bonefishBauanyal - PadymelonWongarū - wallaby

Last edit about 2 months ago by ALourie



The country of the Dieri tribe ends about Blanchewater [crossed out - where] where the Flinders Range of mountains and [crossed out - in the Freeling heights] [?] abruptly in the Freeling Heights. In these mountains were a series of tribes commencing with the [Murdilari?] or "Red people" in mountain areas, following the Kūyani --------- the country of the the latter ending [crossed out - west ? from Port Augusta] at Mt Eyre all these tribes were of the same great [st? ?ulients?]. had spread over the Lake eyre Basin having apparently migrated from [crossed out - the] N Eastern Australia following the course of the Barcoo natives and [?] those of the [?mantion?] also. At any rate I have traced the same organization and and class system on the Upper Barcoo at Mt Howitt in the [Rūnan dalrui?] tribe and the great ceremonies of the Dieri connected with the "mura mura" beliefs extend up to Birdsville and thus connect the tribes of the Everard/Everard River & Diamantina/Diamantina River with these as far south as the Dieri and [Murdula?] at the least.

The class system with the names Materi and Kararu not only extended from the Dieri to the most [crossed out - to Spencer Gul the surrounding ? extent of the tribes] [crossed out - But they also were in the [?] [Riveolin?] tribe.]tribes situated between [Piri?] and the Head of the Bight all of which had the classes Materi and Kararu in some dialectic form as for instance Mŭteri and kararu of the Witūrū and Hileri tribes at the head of the Bight. These class names cease for this [crossed out - any rate they did not extend beyond the boundaries] of the Mēning tribe settles about Eucla which [crossed out - must be ?] [crossed out - to be] is [?] of the West Australian State.

The class name Materi and Kararu as I have said extended down the western side of Spencers Gulf.

On the Eastern side: Yorke Peninsula separates Spencers Gulf from the Gulf of St Vincent. Here I may now [?] a long series of coast tribes which are remarkable as having in many [crossed out - ways] respects an organization which departs [crossed out - in] more or less strongly from the types which are found within the Australian continent.

The first of such tribes is that which occupied [?] and whose remnant state [?] therein.

[Left margin note]The [Augala?] tribe was [?] the Kūyani of Port Ausgusta. Thence in the extensive tract of whose bounds are approximately fixed by Pot Lincoln Head of the Australian Bight, Lake Gauwner & and the Gawler were two tribes whose common boundaries the coast at [Point Brom?]. The one east of the point Wilūrū and [the?] the west of the point the Hillerie tribe.

Last edit 3 months ago by ALourie

hw0183 Howitt to Cameron 26/12/1899



Finch St. East MalvernMelbourne [19 12 99 - crossed out]26/12/99

A L P Cameron EsqrMurrumbury NSW

My dear SirYour letter of 13 inst has muchgratified me and as you are so goodas to undertake further enquiries andas you expect the blacks to return soonI write at once to explain my diagrammore fully.

(1) The diagram for the Wiradjuri givesthe theoretical marriages and descents.[Thus - crossed out] The Dieri diagram gives actual marriagesand descents. I repeat the diagramsin order to explain.

[diagram]Dieri Wiradjuri4M materi M Kararu 5 (4) Ipai Kubbi (5)3F Kararu F Materi 6 (3) Kubbitha Ipatha (6)

2 F Kararu Kami F Materi 7 (2) Matha Butha (7)

M Kararu Noa F Materi 8 (1) Kubbi Ipatha (8)

Last edit about 1 month ago by ALourie

hw0365 Notes on the Dieri



A. The following Diagram shows the laws of marriage and descent in the Dieri tribe of central Australia, in which two class names obtain namely Materiand Kararu. The law is that Materi marries Kararu and Kararu marries Materi and that the child takes the class name of its mother:

In the diagram M. means male and F. means female.

Diagram I [diagram](1) M. materi brother and (5) M. Kararu(2) F. Kararu sister (6) F. Materi

(3) F. Kararu (7) F. Materi

(4) M. Kararu noa (8) F. Materi

In the above (1) and (6), and (5) and (2) are brother and sister. As the line of descent is in the female line (3) the daughter of (1) and (2) and (7) the daughter of (5) and (6) are only given. The son of (3) is (4) - and the daughter of (7) is (8). -

The above shows the marriage law of the Dieri tribe, for (4) [is the - crossed out] and (8) are in the relation of "noa" to each other; [That - crossed out] and a man can only obtain as wife, a woman who is in that relation to him, and the usual practice is that a boy say (4) and a girl say (8), are [often] in their youngest infancy promised to each other in marriage.

B.[But - crossed out] It must be remembered that the relationships shown [above -crossed out] below of parent and child, brother and sister [are - crossed out] include "own" and also "tribal" relations. [Thus - crossed out] [in other wordsa "brother" may be of the same mother and by the same father, or by the same father [and - crossed out] or fathers brother "own or tribal" 3 and of the same mother, or mother's sister "own or tribal", +c +c].

[There is a line from just above Diagram I to here]

The above law may be [therefore - crossed out] thus stated "Ego being a Dieri man, my mother's, mother's, brother's, daughter's daughter is my proper wife " or the answer namely "my mother's father's sister's daughter's, daughter"

Although the brother of (3) and the woman (7) are of the intermarriageable class names, the [tribal - crossed out] Dieri tribal law forbids them to marry, being "Kami mara" which may be interpretted "forbidden". -

[written in left side margin]omit

Last edit 3 months ago by ALourie
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