Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/222

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196
CH.
NATIVE TRIBES OF SOUTH-EAST AUSTRALIA

Kilpara extended up the Murray River as far as the Loddon in the tribes mentioned in Chapter II., but I have not obtained a list of the respective totems.

From that point the tribes up the river were, as I have pointed out, akin to the Kulin tribe of southern Victoria. As descent was with them in the male line, they will be further considered later on.

Tribes with the two-class system lived on the Murray River above Albury on the Mitta-Mitta, Kiewa, and Ovens Rivers in the mountainous country. I have taken the Ya-itma-thang and Wolgal tribes as representing them. In the Theddora branch of the former tribe a girl was promised by her father, usually at or after her birth, and was given to her husband when grown up. A man to whom a girl had been promised endeavoured to obtain a lock of her hair, and if she refused him afterwards, he would sometimes wrap an eagle-hawk's feather in the hair, and then put it in a water-hole. As the hair decomposed, the woman would sicken, and ultimately die.[1] The rule of marriage was that of the two-class tribes with female descent; but I do not know whether a man might marry in any of the totems of the class other than his own, or whether he was restricted to certain of them.

Not only was there the practice of betrothal, but also the Urabunna rule that a man married the daughter of his mother's brother.

Here, as elsewhere, when a girl liked some other man better than him to whom she had been promised in infancy, elopement was not an uncommon occurrence. In such a case her male relations pursued the couple, and if successful in finding them, the man was beaten by her male kindred. But sometimes, if he could pacify them, and also the man she had been promised to, and could find a sister to exchange for her, his offence was condoned.

If a man took a woman contrary to the tribal customs, either as to class or nearness of kinship, the tribes-people usually killed him.

  1. "The Omeo Blacks," Richard Helms. Transactions of the Royal Society of New South Wales, 1895, vol. x.