Howitt and Fison Papers


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As the totems were scattered over the country, and as there was a Headman in each local division, the men who were of different totems to him, had to obey him as to general matters, while they were also obliged to obey their oen head in matters relating to the toem. This will be brought out in speaking of the ordeal by combat in thistribe later on in this chapter.

As to the tribes of [Western Victoria] I again quote from the late Mr James Dawson, who had full opportunity of becoming acquain- ted with the customs of thetribes during a long residence dating from the early days of settlement. (1)

He uses the term of chief, which I have avoided for reasons stated before (p ), but in quoting him I use his own words.

He says every tribe had its chief who is looked on in the light of a father and whose authority is supreme. he consults with the best men of the tribe, but when he announces his decision, they dare no contradict him or disobey him. If a chief leaves home for a short time he is always accompanied by a friend, and on his return is met by two men, who conduct him to his waurn (hut). when a tribe is moving from one part of the country to another, the chief accompanied by a friend, precedes it and obtains from the next chief permission to pass, before his followers cross the boundary. When approaching a friendly camp, the chief walks at the head of his tribe. A strange chief approaching a camp is met at a short distance by the chief and invited to come and sit down, a fire is made for him and then he is asked where he comes from, and what is his business.

When a chief dies the best male friend of the deceased is appointed to take charge of the tribe until when, at the next great meeting of the tribe, the succession is decided by the votes of the chiefs. The eldest son is appointed, unless ther is some good reason for setting him aside. Failing him the office goes to the deceased chief's eldest brother, and to his younger brothers and their succession.

All this is in accord with much that I have seen, but the suc- cession by the eldest son seems to have been mcyh more established in

these tribes. mr Dawson had such exceptionalopportunities of observation in the tribes of South Western Victoria that I [?] [?] [?] [?] [?] [?]

Last edit almost 2 years ago by FionaS





According to the Wobjoballuk the tribes of the Western District of Victoria were related to them.

The only details recorded as to these tribes will be found in Mr [Jas?] Dawsons work in the 'Australian Aborigine" (1). He names six tribes which extend eastward to Colac and Cape [?] where [crossed out - and] [crossed out - shall it] commences commences another aboriginal Nation he mentions next. [crossedout - The classes] No classes equivalent to the Kroki & Kumite of Mt Gambier country or the Krokitch & Gamutch of the Wimmera country are mentioned. The presumption is that for competent and experienced an observer as Mr Dawson has not overlooked them but that these "[war?] tribes" have like others to be mentioned hereafter, [unsup?] several changes which have caused their class systems to be profoundly modified from the [crossed out - type] primitive type of the two class system.

Five totems are given and it is said that the two points and the third and fourth form respectively "sister classes" between which no marriage is permitted, but as the fifth is not so related it can "marry into any class but its own" (2).

[Bracketed (1) and (2); (3) and (4)](1) Kuuro-keetch - long billed cockatoo (3) (2) Kart-poerappa - Pelican [crossed out Banksian cockatoo](3) Koppatch - [crossed out -boa snake] Banksain cockatoo (4) [Kirtiruk?] - Boa snake (4) (5) Kuunamite - Quail

"The traditions of the aborigines say that the first progenitor of the tribes the KujeKur-munja or [tuur?] [81?] [8?] [grand father?] has by descent a [crossed out - Kuur the] Long billed cockatoo who had for a wife a Banksian cockatoo who is called the " Kuurappa moel" or first great great grandmother. Their sons and daughters belonged to the class of the mother. As the law of consanguinity forbade marriage between them.

1 - was necessary to to introduce Wambepeon tuuram "[fish?] flesh" which could [crossed out - only] be obtained only by marriage with strangers. The sons get wives from a distance. Their sons again had to do the same and thus the Pelican, snake and quail classes were introduced (5) [crossed out - there] The fish [crossed out - three] four are totems of the Wotjoballuk & Baundik

The latter is included any [?] " precedes totems" if [?] term [?] in the Buandik tribe.

[Left margin notes](1) The Australian aborigine [?] 1881 p.1.

(+) but see p 28

(2) p 26

(3) cockatoowhite cockatoo?Gamutch ?

(4) Carpet snake

(5) p 27)

Last edit 2 months ago by Christine



Mr [??] Cameron kindly made enquiries for me in the tribe about Mortlake in the Western District and found that it had the following "classes", [Crossed out - Krokage = white cockatoo with red] crest [Crossed out - Kubitcha = Black cockatoo]

[Left margin note] Is this Krokaj?

Krokage = white cockatoo with red crest[Karperap?] = Pelican

[Krokaje and Karperap are bracketted together]

Kŭbititre = Black cockatooKatŭk = Whip snake

[Kŭbititre and Katŭk are bracketted together]

He said that Karperap is "supplementary to Krokaje and Katuk to Kubititre & Krokaje may marry either Kŭbititre or Katŭk and Kŭbititre may marry either Krokaje or Karperap and the children belong to the mothers class." These are clearly four of the "classes given by Mr Dawson, and it is evident that the "[Kunrokutch?]" we have "Krokaje" and also that "Krokaje" is a dialectic form of [crossed out - the] Kroki of the Buandik and Krokitch of the Wotjoballuk which Kappatch is [Kubitche?] or Gamutch.

The boundaries given by Mr Dawson of the [crossed out - tribal] country occupied by [crossed out - his] the tribes he describes extend northwards to Mt William and Ararat and therefore joins to the country of [crossed out - the Wotjoballuk or ?] one of the sub divisions of the Wotjoballuk.

[Crossed out - While] The whole "nation" [indicated?] by the community if class and totems may be said to have extended from the boundary of the Narrinyeri tribe which was at Lacepede Bay in the west coastwards to somewhere about Colac in the East and in the north as far as Maryborough: But taking the word used to designate themselves as "men" then we find it broken up. "Wotjo" extended over the north west, "Mara" over the South East while Kuli [Crossed out - n of Kulin] or Guli was in the Eastern parts, and denote not only a variation in language but as to Kuli a kindred with a [orderly?] extended Nation of tribes which occupied the country to their Eastward of the Wotjovballuk Nation

Last edit 2 months ago by Christine

hw0146 Howitt notes of the Gringai



4 13 Written in the left hand margin towards the bottom of the page: I think there is some reference here to a custom stated by [?Brouch?] Smythe or another that the name of the deceased is never mentioned and that any relatives who bear his name change it. J.F.

aloft to the sky which is over a large part of Southern Australia one of the wizardssupposed powers. In fact all that can be gathered on this subject will have exceptional value for comparison with the pretensions of the “medicine men”.

In connection with this the question alsoarises - do the Gringai regard the sky as a silid vault? If so what is there beyond. [sic] The usual belief is that the sky issolid; that “ghostland” is beyond it where lives the great spirit, Baiamai, Kven, Bunjil, whatever his name Maybe together with the ghost; to whomascends the Wizard [sic] through a holeor door. ——-

J is written and circled in blue What is supposed to become of the spirit of the dead man or woman?It seems that the spirit is supposed fora time at least to remain near, e.g. during the burila when the body is questionedNote which Mr Dawson says about “changing names” on the death of a father. This statement is entirely new to me.

K is written and circled in blueIs it possible to find out as to the Bira:for instance ask any particular Dora,the last one held for instance.(1) who ordered it to be held(2) who attended it - i.e. from which localities.(3) who prepared the Bora ground(4) were there not some “magical ceremonies”performed by the Koradjis after the women were sent away and before the tooth was knocked out? Such for instance as the apparent bringing (crossout) up,out of the wizardsstomach of bones, stones etc. (5) what became of the tooth?(6) what was the punishment where boys eat forbidden food. [sic]

Last edit 9 months ago by Margaret T. Newman


5 14 Note written in the left hand margin halfway down the page: I am not quite sure that the incident referred to demonstrates the existence of real gesture language that is a code of generally understood gestures F.G. [sic]

L is written and circled in blueThis nose flattening I have heard of in one other place. Did the Gringaido it - is it carried out still - if not why was it abandoned ?

M is written and circled in blue This statement of Mr Dawson’s shows conclusively that Gesture language was in his time used bythe Port Stephens blacks and understood by neighbouring tribes. Did the Gringai use it- if so please do give a list of signs for the following words: ——-To eat, drink, sleep, Kill; Yes, no, none, all right, I. you, he, stop, go in, come here, give me, be quiet, be quick, look out, danger, peace, good, badbehind, before, large, small, far away, hungry, thirsty, enough, fire, water, man, woman, child, what? where?

N is written and circled in blueSee as to this Mr McReas [sic] statements p.9

O is written and circled in blue I suspect that the wizard professed to go up aloft amd visit Coen? ———

Last edit 9 months ago by Margaret T. Newman
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