Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/284

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258
CH.
NATIVE TRIBES OF SOUTH-EAST AUSTRALIA

medicine-man of the local group. In such a case a messenger is sent into the bush, carrying five feathers or charred sticks, each with a mark on it made by the Headman, who is the oldest medicine-man. If the girl's father and his brothers are equally divided in opinion, the Headman decides which of the two men proposed shall have the girl. They are told that he who finds the greater number of feathers or sticks, which have been scattered in the bush, is to have her. The man favoured by the Headman always goes in the right direction.

A wife is bound to be faithful to her husband. For the first offence she is branded with a fire-stick. For a second offence she is speared in the leg; for further offences she is killed. But no penalty attaches to the man.

It is very rarely that women are lent, excepting to visitors, but it is occasionally done for a friend who has no wife; but in all cases only to one who is of the proper class name. The most frequent case is when one of the Headmen (medicine-men) requests a loan for some friendly visitor.

When a man dies, his widow goes to his brother.

In cases of elopement, the old men give chase, and when the girl is caught she is severely beaten, and the man who took her away has, if her promised husband wishes it, to fight with him. The number of spears to be thrown is determined by the medicine-men.[1]

In the Narrang-ga tribe of Yorke Peninsula, the restrictions which affect marriage are neither class, totem, nor locality, but relationship. The class and totem names pass from father to child, the totems having, as in some other cases of male descent, become attached to localities instead of being scattered over the tribal country. In tabulating the marriages and descents in this tribe from the data given by the old men, I found that descent is in the male line, and that a man might marry a woman even of his own totem. As in all tribes, sister- marriage was strictly forbidden. This rule of course included the father's brother's daughter and the mother's sister's daughter, but a prohibition

  1. D. Elphinstone Roe.