Taking the Tongeranka tribe as the example of those of the
Itchumundi nation (p ). the office of Headman was in one sense
hereditary, to judge from the instance of the Headman who died in the
year 1884. He succeded his brother, whode son was passed over in his
favor, for what reason I have not been able to ascertain, and it was
understood in the tribe that he would be succeded by his son, who had
already some authority. This shows the succession to the headman
ran in a cetain family butreally depended on the acquiescence of
the old men, since it was distinctly stated that merit as a fighting
man, orator or medicine man, had great weight in securing his power.
In the (?) tribe, a headman must have age, personal prowess,
ability as a leader, andeloqence. The authority in the tribe was
practically in the hands ofthe old men.
The Theddora who lived on the sourcesof the Tambo, Ovens and
Mitta-mitta rivers were practically extinct by the year 1860 and all that
I can say is that they had Headmen who were called turki, and whose author-
ity was of much the same degree as that of the Gweraeil-kurnai of the
Kurnai tribe. I heard much from the few survivors of one Metoko who com-
bined the office of Headman and medicine man and this was the analogue
of the Gommera of the Coast Murring.
Some interesting particulars are given by Mr. Richard Helms
as to this tribe (I), which I quote in this connection.
"The oldest man of the tribe was recognised as a kind of chief
but whenever an attack was planned on some enemy, the ablest warrior was
as a rule chosen to lead andhis advice then received the endorsement of
the old men."
Some of these old men were known to meby repute, not only
from the survivors of the tribe, but alsofrom the Kurnai, Wolgal and
Ngarigo, with whom I had been acquainted and whohad known them
(I) Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales Vol. 10, p 387
The principal one seems to have been the Metoko, before mentioned in the (?) who in his character of medicine man could blow a thread "like a spiders web" up to the sky andby it ascend. The principal fighting man was
"Cobbon Johnny" that is Big Johnny, whose actual name I never heard.
Other Headmen will be mentioned in speaking of the great bloodfeud
of the Kurnai later on (p ).
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