Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/716

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
690
CH.
NATIVE TRIBES OF SOUTH-EAST AUSTRALIA

north-west were supplied with axe-heads. My informant on one occasion brought down word that the Wotjobaluk, at Lake Hindmarsh, were in want of stone for axes, and this material was obtained from the quarry, and carried up to the next great meeting of the tribes on the Wimmera for barter by my informant's father. This man was not only an intermediary, like his son, but also a great medicine-man, for it was he whom I mentioned elsewhere as having taken up the challenge of the settler at Morton's Plains to make rain and fill his new dam.

In the Wotjobaluk tribes messages are sent from the old men by chosen messengers. This is also the case in other tribes of the same nation.

In the tribes of South-west Victoria there were messengers attached to each tribe who were selected for their intelligence and their ability as linguists. They were employed to carry information from one tribe to another, regarding the time and place of great meetings, corrobborees, marriages, burials, and proposed battles.

Persons carrying these messages are considered sacred when on duty, and to distinguish them from others, they generally travel two together, and are painted according to the nature of the message, so that their appearance denotes the nature of their news before they come to the camp. On arriving at the camp, they sit down without speaking, apparently unobserved, and after a time one of them delivers a short speech, with intoned voice.[1]

It was not necessary in the Kurnai tribe that the message should be carried by any particular person, but generally the messenger was one of the younger men related to the sender. In important matters affecting the tribe, messengers were sent by the Gweraeil-kurnai, or Headman, on his own authority, or more frequently after consulting with the old men.

In the Chepara tribe messages were sent on tribal matters by a Headman, or, if of great importance, by the principal Headman. When such a message was sent, it was by a messenger called Buira, who was usually the

  1. J. Dawson, op. cit. p. 72.