Howitt and Fison Papers

OverviewStatisticsSubjects

Search for Barcoo*

XM235_ICDMS_lowres Typed notes

1

1

Mr Lang remarks at page 55 of his Secret of the Totem ,"If Pirra--uru were primitive, it might be looked for among these southernand eastern tribes ....But in these primitive South-east tribes pirra-uru is no more found than subincision, nor is it found among theArunta and the northern tribes."

I do not understand what Mr Lang means when he speaks of "primi--tive tribes", but assume that he refers to the tribesof South East Australia who have advanced from group marriage toindividual marriage, and among whom, certainly, pirrauru is not found.

But I think than I can show good reasons for the belief thatall the tribes of South East Australia did at one time practise it.

In the accompanying tables are the marital, parental, filial and fraternal terms of relationship, used by the tribes of which the Dieriis the type. I also give those used by some of the tribes of SouthEast Australia ,where there is only individual marriage, and these I thinkwill serve as examples of the others.

To assist the reader in following the comparison which I shallmake between the terms of relationship of the tribes herein referredto, I give a few leading facts as to each tribe.

The Dieri inhabit that part of the delta of the Cooper whichextends from the east side of Lake Eyre, and mainly south of that riverfor some hundred and fifty miles. It has a two class system with totemsgroup marriage and descent in the female line.

The Kurnandaburi inhabited country on the Barcoo river aboutone hundred miles from the eastern boundary of South Australia, andhad group-marriage , the equivalent of the Dieri tippa-malku , and descent in the female line,

The Wathi-Wathi were on the Murray river and belonged to anaggregate of several nations whose north western tribes are theneighbours of the Dieri and Yantruwunta. These nations have a two-class system with totems, individual marriage and descent in thefemale line.

The northern Kamilaroi are part of a nation which is organisedin two classes, four sub-classes and totems, individual marriageand descent in the female line.

The Kuinmurbura tribe occupied country near Broad Sound in Queensland. It had two classes, four sub-classes and totems, indi-

[written in left margin]condense + retype

Last edit 24 days ago by ALourie
2

2

[top of page seems to have been cut off]But I think that I can show good [rest of line missing]all the tribes of South East Australia did at one time practise it.

In the accompanying tables are the marital, parental, filial andfraternal terms of relationship, used by the tribes of which the Dieriis the type. I also give the those used by some of the tribes of SouthEast Australia, where there is only individual marriage, and these I thinkwill serve as examples of the others.

To assist the reader in following the comparison which I shallmake between the terms of relationship of the tribes herein referredto, I give a few leading facts as to each tribe.

The Dieri inhabit that part of the delta of the Cooper whichextends from the east side of Lake Eyre, and mainly south of that riverfor some hundred and fifty miles. It has a two class system with totemsgroup marriage and descent in the female line.

The Kurnandaburi inhabited country on the Barcoo River aboutone hundred miles from the eastern boundary of South Australia, andhad group-marriage, the equivalent of the Dieri tippa-malku , and descent in the female line,

The Wathi Wathi were on the Murray river and belonged to anaggregate of several nations whose north western tribes are theneighbours of the Dieri and Yantruwunta. These nations hava a two-class system with totems ,individual marriage and descent in thefemale line.

The northern Kamilaroi are part of a nation which is organizedin two classes, four sub-classes and totems, individual marriageand descent in the female line.

The Kuinmurbura tribe occupied country near Broad Sound inQueensland. It had two classes, four sub-classes and totems, indi--vidual marriage and descent in the female line.

The Wurunjeri were one of several tribes in southern central Victoria,with two classes and one totem. It was also organized on localitywith descent in the male line.

The Kaiabara tribe was at the Bunya-Bunya mountains in Queens-land and represented a large number of tribes, extending from thecoast inland for some hundred miles square. The organization was intwo classes divided into four subclasses with totems. There wasindividual marriage with male descent.

TheArunta are the immediate neighbours of the north of theUrabunna, and have four subclasses in the southern and eight in thenorthern part of the tribe. There are totems which do not regulatemarriage and descent in the male line.

The Binbinga tribe has eight sub-classes, with individualmarriage and descent in the male line.

The Narrinyeri tribe are situated on the coast at the mouthof the Murray river .The tribe has no class names, but has exogamoustotems and is organised in local clans. There is individual marriagewith descent in the male line.

[written in left margin at top of page]condense + retype

Last edit 7 days ago by ALourie

XM505_ICDMS_lowres

1

1

22

[In order - crossed out] To assist the reader in considering thecomparison which I shall make between the[several sets of Dieri amd Kurnai - crossed out] relationship terms[and those - crossed out] of the [other - crossed out] tribes herein referred to, I [now - crossed out] give a few leading facts as to each tribe.The Dieri inhabit part of the delta of the Cooper[and - crossed out] have a two class system with totems, group-marriage and descent[..ckmed?] in the female line.The Kurnandaburi inhabited country on the Barcoo River (the [upper......?] of the Cooper) about milesfrom the boundary between South Australia and becausethey had a trio clan system [like ...] of theDieri with [totems?], group marriage and descent in thefemale line.The Wathi-wathi here [......] on the Murrayand belonged to an aggregate of [..... nature?], on that riverand the Darling, where [north western?] tribes are theneighbours of the Dieri. This tribe have a twoclass system with totems, individual marriage anddescent in the female line.The Wotjobaluk lived in north west Victoria being oneof a nation, in which all the tribes had thesame organisation by two classes, and not only one set oftotems in each, but subsidiary groups of sub totems. Therewas individual marriage with descent [......] in the femaleline.The Northern Kamilaroi. These tribes alsoconstitute a nation, in which the organization is in twoclasses, four totems. There is individual marriage and femaledescent. The tribe where relationship terms are given lived on the Gwydir River in Northern New south Wales.The Kuinmurbura tribe occupied country nearBroad Sound in Queensland and had two classesfour subclasses and totems, individual marriage

Last edit 28 days ago by ALourie

XM690_ICDMS_lowres

4

4

4or became extinct in the Kurnai tribe the local groups, Hordes if descent remains in the female or clans if it has been [?] of and [crossed out - became attached] the male line, the exogamous law has attached itself to the local that is geographical groups which therefore regulate marriage. It is as if an English Village had determined that its children should marry beyond its bounds, possibly with the children of some one in some adjacent village while its daughters went to the village whence thier brothers took their wives.

The illustration of these statements I shall take several instances mainly those of [crossed - the case of] the Dieri and the Kurnai [crossed out - as instances] for the reason [crossed out - already stated] that they are respectively highly typical of the most archais and the most recent forms of local & social organization of the Australian tribes known to me.

The local organization [underlined]

The Dieri tribe inhabits the country of the Barcoo delta in the west and to the west side of Lake Eyre in Central Australia. It is one of a number of tribes which have the same organization, with allied languages and [crossed out - the same] ceremonies, customs and beliefs are the same lines. These tribes to some extent althoroughly submitting, if I may be permitted to so phrase it, to the English imperium, still have their own lives and follow so far as is possible the tribal customs. That which I shall have [?] of them will however be as I knew them thrity seven years ago in their wild state before their country had been occupied for pastoral purposes. The tribal territory was occupied by five principal local divisions (1) [Poordo Pirmauie?] or Lake Hope [crossed out - the ?] Lake (2) Kūramina or Blanchewater (3) Kopperamana(4) [Kilalepanina?] and [Kathithaudra?] at the junction of the Baroo Rd with Lake Eyre.

Last edit 28 days ago by ALourie
27

27

18

[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 4 months ago by Christine
28

28

18A

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 7 days ago by ALourie

XM692_ICDMS_lowres

9

9

6

great one" who could not come to see me. I went, and found sitting in one of the huts, the oldest blackfellow I ever saw. The other Pirarus were mostly grey haired and bald but he was so old as to be almost childish and was covered with a [?] feel/fell of hair from head to foot. The respect with which he was treated by the other old men was as marked in them as was the respect with which they were treated by the younger men.

They told me that he was unable to walk about and that when they travelled he was carried by some of the younger men.

Such Headmen as those of the Dieri were certainly to be found in all the tribes of the Lake Eyre Basin, the Barcoo, and extending

[Seems text has been cut and pasted here]

[In circle] Insert under at A

In the [Adjadura?] tribe the office of Headman was hereditary from father to son. The Head man [insert: a man of probably 60 years of age] who was still living in [Crossed out ' In the Kurnai tribe'] 1887, and therefore dated back to the [settlement?] of South Australia inherited his his authority from his father, and his son [?] the time [?] already some authority in the tribe. [Rest of line crossed out] [word crossed out] Other men of near the same age were all unanimous in confirming their [?] and to the Headmanship.

[Seems text has been cut and pasted here]

tribes such as the Dieri, but in this respect their power was perhaps no more marked and their office distinctly hereditary.

Each totem class (1) that is each localised totem had its Headman called [Rupulli?]. The office was not hereditary but the [Rupulli?] was chosen by the old men, yet here as in other such tribes there seems to have been a tendency to choose the brother or the son of the dead Headman as the successor.

[Left hand margin note to explain "Each totem class"](1) I use the term totem class advisedly?] in this case because with the naming [eri?] the totems have become [localised?] as was the case with many of the [western?] tribes.(see p. -)

Last edit 4 months ago by ALourie
10

10

6

[Page a revised version of preceeding page 6]

great one" who could not come to see me. I went, and found sitting in one of the huts, the oldest blackfellow I ever saw. The other Pirarus were mostly grey haired and bald but he was so old as to be almost childish and was covered with a [?] feel/fell of hair from head to foot. The respect with which he was treated by the other old men was as marked in them as was the respect with which they were treated by the younger men.

Such Headmen as those of the Dieri were certainly to be found in all the tribes of the Lake Eyre Basin, the Barcoo, and extending down the Flinders Ranges to Spencer Gulf and [?],

[2 lines crossed out - ' I have now also in the two class tribe opf the Darling River and the River Murray']A [arrow to insert here]

Alluding to to the account given to me by the Rev. Geo. Taplin and [?] [?] [?]find and extended by his son the [?] Mr Taplin, the Head men of the [Narruyeri?] coast tribe were analagous in characteristics to those of the inland tribes such as the Dieri, but in this respect their power was [such?] [so?] more marked and their office distinctly hereditary.

Each totem class (1) that is each localised totem and its headman called Rupulli. The office was not hereditary but the Rupulli was chosen by the old men, yet here as in other such tribes there seems to have been a tendency to choose the brother or the son of the dead headman as the successor.

[Note left hand margin is the same as the previous page]

Last edit 4 months ago by ALourie

XM145_ICDMS_lowres R Christison to Howitt

1

1

Lammamoor Oct 31stAckd 28/11[?]/85 [?]Alfred Howitt, EsqSale Gippsland Victoria

Dear SirI feel quite ashamed to write to you tis so long ago since I got your last letters. I have been most busy: closing a long partnership, selling some runs, and buying others, that I have had but little time for anything else. Dr Beddoe has gone, I regret to say he would not help me to give you the information you required. I have gone over all your queries today and I fear I cannot answer your questions accurately, of course I have an idea of many of your questions, but I refrain from attempting to answer them as I have my doubts as to their accuracy. However, what is in my power, and you can rely upon its accuracy, lies in the dot tracing I have made on your map, showing the boundary lines of the various tribes in this district, and the names of them.

[next page]

The only one I am doubtful of is No. 9 I think it lies more to the eastward towards the Alice and Barcoo. I feel I could answer more of your queries if I met you personally and had some of my most intelligent blacks with us, is there no probability of you coming north? Would you like a water color head of two Daleburra male and female? I shall make another attempt and try if I can give you some more information, especially upon the theme [?] of relationship. The drought is ? very bad, if no rain falls before Feb I fear ruin will fall upon many. Griffith’s Land Billis most damaging to Lessees, and must injure the future advance of Queensland much. I hope to go to Tenterfield N.S. Wales in December to escape the hot months here during the rainy season, if we are ever to have another.

Yours faithfullyR. Christison

Last edit 20 days ago by ALourie

XM600_ICDMS_lowres

3

3

14same totem as the tarrimas sitting onthem. Sometimes the visitors placethe legs of their tarrimas across each otherfor a minute or two - and after theperformance is over the visitorscarry their tarrimas back to their respective camps and lay themdown carefully therein. During thisproceeding they do not speak andwhatever things the onlooking tarrimashave as food, clothes, fancy articles theygive to the tarrimas their visitorswhile they are dancing in front of them; but they shut their eyes whilegiving these presents and the dancing man never stops but receives itstill keeping up his performance.

When present at a meeting of theBurgullabura + Wandilibura tribeslately I noticed that the ceremonieswere all relative to tarrima; at thepresent time x all the Wakelburablacks have been [are - crossed out] absent [and - crossed out] for about ten monthsone part of the tribe having gone to visit their tarrimas atBlackall and Barcaldine on the Barcooor Thomson River and the other parthaving gone north to the Towers blacks.

A peculiarity as to tarrimais that two men who are tarrima to each otherare bot allowed to speak to each other.Suppose for instance that two blacksmeet, one from the Barcoo and the other

x- [?1851?]

[written in left side margin]see contra A

Burgullabura - called after"plains" - classes areMallera + Yungera

Last edit 6 months ago by ALourie

hw0305 Letter from Cameron to Howitt 14/July/1884

3

3

Bunyabbi TribeThis tribe is located in thevicinity of Barcaldine StationAbout 60 miles west nor west ofof [sic] Blackall on the Barcoo. Thiscountry is on the Alice RiverTheir class divisions wereUrgilla marries Uberu child WunguBanbri [ditto] Wungu [ditto] UberuWungu [ditto] Banbri [ditto] UrgillaŪberū [ditto] Urgilla [ditto] Banbri

Bunyabbi totems areUrgilla = Eaglehawk, red KangarooWungu = Sugar bag, Duck, OppossumUberu = Emu Iguana

They burried [sic] in the groundPracticed sorcery, had rain makersDoctors and wizards to whom thepowers of magic were communicatedby departed friends or by dreamsThe sacred wand used at theBorah was called ToondoolaVocabulary Hand= Murra Foot=ThinaThigh= Thurra Toungue=Tallienmouth=dea

Last edit about 2 months ago by ALourie

hw0174 Press cuttings on Wampangee tribe

2

2

[newspaper article by S. Newland in the Express and Telegraph, 14/12/1887, p. 7]

The Aboriginal Tribes on the Darling River - No. II

[By S. Newland.]

The native doctors have many modes of alleviating suffering, some very simple and effective. That of applying the heated leavesof plants to the parts of the body affected iscertainly beneficial, operating much the sameas our hot fomentations and the application ofhot flannels. I have seen the eucalyptusleaves used in this way with apparently verygood effect. But in the so-called doctor's craftthere is much humbug and imposture. The patient must be streaked over with lines ofpaint in a grotesque manner. The practice ofsucking various articles from the suffering partis common to many tribes of the Australianaboriginals, as well as North American Indiansand the Zulus of South Africa. I have seen the practitioner apparently draw out abullock's tooth, the bottom of a tumbler, apiece of the jawbone of a sheep, a fragments of]pitcher, &c. Useless to denounce him as animposter, the patient declared he or she felt thething going from them, and the pain was re-[illegible] They did not require any more of thewhiteman's castor oil, but a pot of jam wouldexpedite the cure. Sometimes the things ex-tracted were buried, at others carefully kept asrelics of the skill of the operator. Sicknessesof this nature were generally attributed tosome blackfellow having a grudge against theinvalid and "making a bone." This is done by cutting and shaping a bone ina peculiar way which gives its possessor thepower of striking with disease any one he chooses. One of the same people is often accused of doing this, and even glorying in it, though his life may be frequently threatenedby his terrified tribesmen. On one occasion anold warrior, like a modern Don Quixote, hada hard struggle with a whirlwind. They arevery frequent on the Darling in the summermonths, but this was an extraordinarily strongone. It came slowly across a flat towards thestation, twisting boughs off the trees andtaking bushes and grass up in a columnof dust. Then appeared Don Quixotein full war panoply, paint, weapons,and feathers. He placed himself near thestore, the building most menaced by the foe,and danced, stamped, and gesticulated in aperfect frenzy of heroism and excitement.Nearer came the whirlwind and wildergrew the dance, the stamping, and the gew-tures. It caught hold of some empty casespiled up at one corner of the store, and flungthem about; but it was the last attack. Thewarrior stood his ground, the building wassaved. I had witnessed the whole thing, andwell remember the triumphant smile withwhich the exhausted veteran came to claim hisreward. This old man had many of thecharacteristics of the famous Don, his sim-plicity, conscientiousness, and herosim. As apeople, I believe them by no means want-ing in courage; indeed, I never knewbut one coward among them, and hewas abject enough not even to be ashamedof it. They could use their weapons withadmirable skill and protect themselves undera shield possibly 6 inches whide by 2 feet long.On many occasions I have been supplied withnumerous weapons and told to aim them at awarrior who simply defended himself with ashield in one hand and a waddy in the other. I might rain spears, waddies, or boomerangsat each apparently unprotected portion of hisbody, that narrow strip of wood ever inter-posed where danger threatened. At a game of that sort you at first naturally fear, youropponent appears so exposed, that you cannothelp hurting him, but after a bit you warminto exasperation at the ease with which yourefforts are foiled, and pitch compunction to thewinds in your frantic attempts to drop thatgrinning black demon behind his miraculousshield. But it is not use, and when your storeof missiles has been three or four times col-lected and expended, as well as every avail-able stone, you realise this, and retire feelingthat only for the invention of gunpowdercolonisation would be attended with greaterdifficulties than you have hitherto supposed.

They are by no means devoid of humor. Irecollect one night there being a great row inthe camp, and, out of patience at last, goingout and handcuffing the principal offender toa post. In the morning, from my room, Icould see the prisoner lying apparently fast asleep in his blanket. After a while, thinkinghe might be set at liberty, I went out, and there lay my handcuffs on the top of a figureenveloped in the blanket. He had slipped hishands out directly I left, and, leaving a dummyrepresentative, rejoined his companions in theircamp, who thought it a great joke. All tribes,so far as I know, hold to the old barbaric law,"an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth".Several instances of this came under my observation. A young woman (Nougo) waskilled by her husband (Mallee) in a barbarousmanner. He at once bolted up the river foranother tribe. A party of four was imme-diately sent after to kill him. All were rela-tives of the murdered woman; one, herbrother, was a cripple, but, having the right ofthe first blow, he accompanied them. They tracked him up for three days, and thenkilled him. Another case. A blackfellowstruck his lubra a sudden blow with a waddyquite in the ordinary way, and killed her. He offered his bent head to the avengingkinsman to be struck as hard as he pleased.According to aboriginal law this was con-sidered to be all the justice that the casedemanded. A furious blow was administeredsufficient to kill a bullock, and the law wassatisfied. Long-standing quarrels were also fre-quently settled in this way by the injurer bowinghis head to the smiter. I never heard of theseblows ending fatally, though certainly givenwith a will; but if they did the skull fracturedwould probably be held more in fault than theoperator. It has frequently been assertedthat they practice cannibalism; but this, I be-lieve, is in no sense true. They have to meinvariably expressed the greatest detestation ofthe idea. They, however, do practice infanti-cide, and justify it on various grounds.The mother is too young, or notstrong enough, or has not sufficientmilk; but the usual excuse given to me -and I have known several instances of babies[next column]being killed - has been tht they were de-formed or imperfect in some way. There canbe no doubt that a crippled child was notallowed to live; that is, if crippled at birth.It must be admitted that there was muchsound philosophy in such a course in a peopleof roving habits. Apart from considerationsof the deterioration of the race there was thesterner obligation of self-interest, as each help-less creature increased the difficulty of moving,besides beign another mouth to feed. If notdestroyed at the birth they became too muchattached to them subsequently to do it.

At the death of any member of the tribe thecamp was moved at once. This custom renders it almost useless to build permanent huts forthem. The body, almost before the last breathwas drawn, was doubled up into as small acompass as possible, and buried immediately,in many cases much attention being afterwardspaid to keeping the grave neat. Great respectwas paid to the old men and many delicacieswere exclusively reserved for them, principally of animals, birds, reptiles, or fish that were noteasily precurable. The most esteemed of thesethe young men, women, and children were notallowed to eat. The wild turkey was one ofthese; but as the blacks decreased, and thesecreatures could be obtained more easily by thewhites man's [sic] appliances, these arbitrary lawswere relaxed. They were very fond of fat,frequently eating to surfeit of it, particularlywhen a bullock was slaughtered, as well asprofusely anointing themselves with it. Yetnothing would induce them to touch pork inany shape. Whnce came this remarkableantipathy I was never able to learn. Besidestheir implicit belief in evil spirits, they also believed that many deep holes in the riverwere haunted by a big snake called "Niche".In these holes they would not bathe or fish,and, on one occasion, when two whitechildren were drowning, and might have beensaved by some lubras who were present, theyan [sic] away, screaming "Niche!" There are manydifferent kinds of corroborees; some for bothmen and women, and others in which the menalone take part. If the women join, theygenerally stand some distance behind the menwhen dancing, and do not come prominentlyinto the light. Occasionally the "hummer"is used, but not frequently: probably because it is considered too sacred to be seen by womenor young men. When used it is taken out be-yond the circle of light, so that, through thesound can be heard, it is impossibleto see how it is produced. There isno doubt some of the corroborees terminatein a wild orgy, when practices are indulged inthat our canons of morality by no means sanc-tion. Like our own songs and music, some arelasting favorites, others are composed, tried,and quickly forgotten; and this is not to bewondered at, for they sometimes consist of buta few words of utter absurdity.

It has been asserted that the aboriginals ofAustralia have no traditions, but that is notquite correct, as a rather remarkable instancecoming under my own notice shows. To thewest of the River Darling is the MountMcPherson Range, on parts of which arehollow rocks or small caves, said by theblacks to be haunted by evil spiritsthey called the "Mullas." In theearly days they would not sleep nearthese rocks on any accont. They describethese "Mullas" as once a living people atdeadly enmity with their ancestors, wagingperpetual war, and that now they are deadtheir spirits yet roam at night searching forsome solitary defenceless Parkengee to strikewith sickness. Ofthen when I have beencamped with them they have heard at nightthe demons scream "Yahoo." Of course Icould not hear it, but that was easily ex-plained. The "Mullas" did not want me, itwas the Parkengees they pursued with suchpersistent hate and revenge. So strong wasthis fear that they often declared they hadbeen struch with illness by these nocturnalfoes. They describe the "Mullas" ashaving been low of stature, broad, andimmensely strong, with very long armsreaching nearly to their feet; but their moststriking peculiarity was a sharp broadbone like the blade of an axe growing justabove each elbow. With this they fought,striking back with the force of a kick from ahorse. Though always much interested intheir tales about these Mullas, I almostdoubted if they really believed they had everactually lived, until on one occasion whencamped with some blacks not far from therange they showed me in a depression, scoopedout on the top of a soft sandhill by the wind,a number of helmets shaped not unlike a tradi-tional dunce's cap, made of (copiga) gypsum.Altogether there were some dozens of these,many of them whole, many more in fragments.They were apparently made to put on thehead, yet were too small for any ordinaryhuman being. Up to now I have never beenable to conjecture what could be their possibleuse - what they could have been made for. Itried them on my own head, as well as on theblacks, buth they were not nearly large enoguhto fit any but a child. Some were quite 2 feetlong, others less, and all hollow. I may statehere that this "copiga" is the same materialthe river tribes use to cover their heads withwhen in mourning, as well as smear their bodies,but they in no way make anything of this kindsuch as I saw on that sandhill. Much in-terested, I enquired if the blacks could give meany explanation, and was then told that thereperished at the hands of their forefathers thewhole Mulla tribe of hunger and thirst. Theywere compeltely surrounded, and in their lastextremity those helmets were made to cooltheir burning heads. This was the revenge ofthe Parkengees for the wrongs of years, andsince that deed of slaughter the spirits of theMullas had haunted them and struck themwith sickness when away from the camp fire oralone. They added that a few miles away tothe west was hidden the skeleton of a Mullawhich they could show me. I was interestedand sanguine enough to go with them, and wesearched high and low, but withoutavail; that treasure, for such it wouldhave been, I never saw. Another dis-appointment awaited me, for when some timeafterwards I went with a cart for the copigahelmets not one could be found. The blacksdenied having taken them, but this they weresure to do, as I had ordered them not to touchone. No doubt for some superstitious reasonsthey had hidden them away; I never was ableto discover where.

They also tell the story of a great calamitythat befell the back country tribe with whichthey intermarried. In a fearful drought, whennearly all the waters failed, the tribe in questioncollected upon the Perie Springs, situated inthe Mount McPherson Range, about 50 milesfrom the Darling, some disease came amongthem and more than half perished. Theygenerally attributed this to the malevolence ofthe "debbie, debbie," as usual, but oneof the most intelligent told me he thought itwas caused by the bad water. He showed methe spot that tradition pointed out as the siteof the camp where nearly the whole of hispeople died, leaving them ever since but aremnant of their old numbers. From what hesaid it probably occured two or three genera-tions before the country was settled by thewhites. It has been suggested that this sick-ness was smallpox, as traces of it are to befound among them, but at this distance of timeit is impossible to determine. They alsowould be likely to confound smallpox with askin disease they are much affected with, verydissimilar in its more serious aspect, butsufficiently resembling it to render worthlessany diagnosis we can make.

Of a future state they give many accounts,but I will now only attempt to relate one.Old "Baroo" was looked upon as a greatscoundrel by the whites, consequently he wasalmost an outlaw, scarcely tolearted on anystation. He refused to shepherd, he declinedto cut wood or draw water, or in any way tobow to the "Borees'" rule. With his own people,however, he possessed boundless influence;they both feared and venerated him; some ofthem even believed he had actually visitedtheir heaven, and he told them it was in thiswise. When he was young there lived avery old mand who was Barpoo's instructorin their native lore. He could cure alldiseases, as well as cause them, and when hedied his powers descended to his disciple.Shortly before his death he told Barpoo thataflter he was dead he was to cut a piece of fleshout of his tight and eat it. This he did, andimmediately fell into a sleep in which his spiritflew away beyond the sky. There he saw theblackman's goddess in the form of a womanembodying all the charms the aboriginal covets.She received him with much kindness andshowed him all the abundance of the joys pre-pared for his people - game of all kinds,plants, fruits, and fish, so that existencewas a perpetual round of ease andfeasting. The goddess conferred herfavors upon the chosen of her followers,but there were also numerous lesser femaledivinities to welcome all. When this was nar-rated I enquired if the white man could notenter there, but I received a most emphaticnarta (no). In no other instance have I heardthe spirit wathing over them described as afemale, but the future immortal hunting-grounds are always the same; there they hunt,fish, and surrender themselves to the volup-tuous joys so bountifully provided, and therethe hated "Boree" has no place; and I don'tthink we can wonder at it when we considerwhat their experience of us has been. Theirlanguage is a poor one, as evinced bythe repetition of the same word in count-ing; for instance, "barcoola" means two,and for six rthey have only the same wordthree times repeated, or eight, four times.Also in their laments the one word "wimperi"is sang over and over again. When it comes toabuse and vituperation the vocaublry is suffi-ciently extensive, and it is questionable if theproverbial fishwife of our race could hold herown agains her untutored sister in this respect.

The various tribes had their own countryclearly defined, and that again was subdividedamong the individuals. It would appear thatthis might lead to confiusion and disputes; buteach bend in river or creek was named, aswell as every hill, palin, or the smallest water,so that once knowing these names there was littledifficulty in fixing a boundary or identifying aplace. It is really surprising how the countryof the Upper Darling is mapped out by themin this way, or rather was when the aboriginallords held away. We have looked upon themwith the lofty superiority of our race, but thehistorical student will find far more in theirlaws and customs admirably adapted to theirmanner of life and the conditions surroundingthem than is generally supposed. I have en-deavored to prepare a vocabulary of thelanguage of the tribe dealt with, but I find myrecollection is imperfect - circumstances mayadmit of some important omissions being sup-plied later.

Last edit 5 months ago by ALourie

tip70-10-33-19 Howitt to Fison 26 September 1878

1

1

Court House Sale Sept 26 1878

My dear Mr Fison I now post you schedules fromLake Condah V. Kunopia N.S.W. Nomaulin Q. Cloncurry Q. Barcoo Q. (2) Solomon Is. Kopperamanna S.A. and also a schedulefilled in with all the terms I have. You will see that I have added two or three; and I think it mightperhaps be advisable to add [Sisters brother's Sister -crossed out] wife's brother's wife, wife's sister's husband. In the Brabrolong system they would be of course [Tundung +c - crossed out]Bowung &c, Tundung &c. The Brabrolong system is the most logical one I know. Do you not think it wellto give the whole of your system in a schedule - perhapsas an appendix? I expect you intend to do this.I have now looked over R. B. S. book and I confess that Iam disappointed in the Magnum Opus. There is a great mass of facts but I can see how many of the facts aredistorted through the meduim conveying them, and their value is thereby distorted. As to our special work he has nothing but the little I gave him and as to the distribution of food in the common group I see nothing. I hope we shall be able to make our contribution perfectly accurate - I am now aboutto test all my facts afresh by a new course ofenquiry among a fresh lot of "Kurni." For if we have a shaky foundation our house will perhapstopple over on us or be pulled about our ears. I feel that it is hopeless for any one man The Rev. Lorimer FisonNavuloa Fiji

Last edit 28 days ago by ALourie
All 13 records