Search for Murawari* Mūrawari*
Dear Miss Benson
I am taking you at your wordand asking you to try and solve a problem for which I have made many endeavors to obtaina solution, but so far ineffectually.It relates to the Kamilaroi speakingtribes, but possibly the Murawarior Gooamoo tribe may do as well.
What it is that I desire to find out is the rule which in [these - crossed out] theKamilaroi tribes regulates marriages. That is to say, taking your informant"Cambo" as an example, what is the rule which enables him to know which among the numerous women who are Matha, are the ones [which with - crossed out] it would
XM31_ICDMS_lowres Handwritten draft notes
[During- crossed out] In the preparation of the communication I havereceived important information [from - crossed out] through thecourtesy of [the Secretar- crossed out] Mr R. H. Beardmore the Secretaryto the Board for Protection of Aborigines, in SydneyThe Superintendent of Police for theBourke District has forwarded two reports[made to him as to the Kurnu amd Murawari - crossed out][tribes and one - crossed out] as to the Approximate number of[Aborigines - crossed out] Full Blood and Half Caste Aborigines in the BourkeDistrict, the Kurnu, and the Mūrawari tribes. [The essen These reports show that- crossed out][the decrease of the aborigine in the last - crossed out][ten years to have been from - crossed out]It appears that the number of Aborigines tenyears ago [in the - crossed out] and since in the Bourke District were as follows:1898 Full Blood Aborigines 824 Half Caste Aborigines 4541907 [ditto] ditto 540 ditto 425The Bourke District comprise an area of N. S. W.[appr - crossed out] consisting of 24 counties and approximately toone third of the area of the State ([which is 310, 700 square miles])The county on the left Side of the Darling River[was I th- crossed out] has II think been occupied for more than 50 yearswhile that on the right Side, [has - crossed out] to the Queensland border wasnot occupied more than 45 years ago, when I travelled it [in search - crossed out] when searching forthe Burke + Wills expedition [I do think up - crossed out] The decreasein the Aboriginal population was normally here greater during thatlonger period of occupied by the whites, and I ccannot think thatthe greater part of the Full blood Aborigines will be found inthe country north west of the Darling River - and the Queensland border
19071861-2[1907 - crossed out][54 - crossed out]45
I have [??] informants as toThe present actual condition of the Kurnuand Mūrawari tribes from the Superintendantof Police at Bourke through the courtesy of Mr R. H.Beardsmore the Secretary for the Board for the Protection of Aboriginesin SydneyThe Kurnu tribe now numbers only 25[individuals- crossed out], and the Mūrawari 40individuals, a number of whom live at theBrewarrina [abori- crossed out] Mission StationI have also received a statement showing the respective numbers of Full blood + Half CasteAborigines in the Bourke District for the lastten years. I may mention that the Bourke Districtcomprises twenty four counties, being an area of approximately one fifth of the State of New South Wales[which - crossed out] the extent of which is 310.700 square miles.The Bourke District may be considered ashaving been settled at three different periods[one following the - crossed out] the first being its eastern partfollowing the exploration of Sturt and Mitchell sayfrom 1830 to 1840, the second along the Darling Riverand is [?particular?] above Bourke from 1845 andthe North Eastern part after 1861-2.[The effect of this and of the formation of towns has - crossed out][been - crossed out] On this view I consider that the aborigineswill have dominated in number in population to thedifference in the time which has elapsed sincesettlement by whites in their country. I think that one half ofthe surviving Fullbloods will probably be found in the latest settled area.
[written in left side margin]1898 Full blood Aborigines 824 Half caste Aborigines 4541907 [ditto] [ditto] [ditto] 540 [ditto] [ditto] [ditto] 425
2[This would account for the few small numbers of - crossed out][people belong to - crossed out][Reports read from - crossed out] Reports by the Superintendant of Police at Bourke[which I am completing this paper show that - crossed out]which have been communicated to me by theSecretary of the Aborigines Protection Board, which I am compilingthis paper, show that [the Kurnu tribe now - crossed out] thereare not now more than 25 individual [of - crossed out]belonging to the Kurnu tribe now living, [and of the - crossed out]while of the Murawari tribe there are 40 living.These reports fully bear out what I have said as tothe present condition of the native tribes.
hw0167 Draft Howitt to Benson
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.
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?