Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/335

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VI
309
TRIBAL GOVERNMENT

of the settlement of Port Phillip, falls into line with the particulars which I have given. I have condensed his statements as follows:[1] "Each tribe has a Chief who directs all its movements, and who, wherever he may be, knows where all the members of the community are. The Chief, with the aged men, makes arrangements for the route each party is to take, when the tribe, after one of its periodical meetings, again separates.

"Besides the Chiefs, they have other eminent men, as warriors, counsellors, doctors, dreamers who are also interpreters, charmers who are supposed to bring or drive rain away, and also to bring or send away plagues, as occasion may require."

Such are Mr. Thomas's statements. He had great opportunities for obtaining information, for, as he says, he was "out with them for months," but it is much to be regretted that he did not place on record the very many facts which he must have seen as to their beliefs and customs, which would have been invaluable now.

The Wurunjerri tribe of the Woëworung-speaking people gives a good example of the manner in which the lesser divisions (clans) were arranged, and of the relation to them of the Ngurungaeta. In order to make clearer what I shall have to say about the Headman, it will be necessary to say that when Melbourne was established, the tribe was divided into three parts. One, called Kurnaje-berring was sub-divided into those who, under their Headman Bebejern, occupied the country from the Darebin Creek to the sources of the Plenty River, and those who, under their Headman Billi-billeri,[2] lived on the east side of the Saltwater River, up to Mt. Macedon.[3] The second division lived about the Yarra Flats, under their Headman Jakki-Jakki,[4] and occupied

  1. Letters from Victorian Pioneers, p. 65, Thomas Francis Bride, LL. D., Government Printer, Melbourne, 1899.
  2. William Thomas says of this man "Bi-li-bel-la-ri was the Chief of the Yarra tribe. He stands foremost, and justly so, as ever having been the white man's friend, generous, frank and determined as he was" (op. cit. p. 70). "The good old Billi-billary" (Impressions of Australia, Richard Howitt, 1845).
  3. Jurawait is the name of this mountain.
  4. This is one of those men whose names as Jagajaga appear as grantors in Batman's celebrated deed. My Woëworung, Thagunworung, and Jajaurung informants ridiculed the idea of the marks appended by them to the deed having any meaning, beyond that of imitation of, or compliance with, what Batman showed them.