Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/352

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326
CH.
NATIVE TRIBES OF SOUTH-EAST AUSTRALIA

had probably discussed with them the matters which the elders dealt with.

The elder men of the clan formed a council in the Chepara tribe. This council recognised the Headman of the clan as its head. In momentous proceedings such as the Bora, they were all subordinate to the Headman[1] of the tribe. In this they were analogous to the Yuin, where there was a principal Goummera, who was the leader of the others when they were all assembled together.

Such are the powers that govern the tribe, and I shall now relate the punishments for tribal and individual offences and the manner in which those punishments are carried out.

The Punishment of Offences

When a man dies in the Dieri tribe, it is thought he has been killed by some one through the action of evil magic, for instance, by "pointing with the bone," or "striking with the bone," as it is called, a practice which I have described elsewhere.

When a man has been adjudged by the council to have killed some one by evil magic, an armed party called Pinya is sent out to kill him.

The appearance at a camp of one or more natives marked with a white band round the head, with the point of the beard tipped with human hair, and with diagonal red and white stripes across the breast and stomach, is the sign of a Pinya. These men do not speak, and their appearance is a warning to the camp to listen attentively to the questions they may think it necessary to put regarding the whereabouts of the condemned man. Knowing the discipline of a Pinya and its remorseless spirit, any and every question is answered in terror, and many a cowardly man in his fear accuses his friend or even his relative, and it is on this accusation that the Pinya throw the whole of the responsibility of the death they inflict. When the deed is done, the Pinya is broken up, and each man returns to his home.[2]

A recent instance of a Pinya and its course of action is

  1. J. Gibson.
  2. S. Gason.