Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/56

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Description of the Natives of King George's Sound

vagrant life. The population is consequently far from numerous, and varies in appearance and habits according to the nature of the food in their district. This will naturally occasion numerous subdivisions into tribes and classes, which we find to be the case in an uncommon degree; and there appears to be little bond of union amongst them—they have the same name and district, but nothing else; for, when on friendly terms, they seldom associate together, and their wars appear to be more between individuals or families, than between tribes or districts. They have no general camp or rendezvous, acknowledge no general chief, and associate or disperse as season or inclination leads them. What their meetings in the interior may be, I know not: sometimes, perhaps, they may be large, but I believe that, during the winter, (when the sea-coast tribes go into the interior,) they are in small parties, and much scattered, living upon opossums, bandicoots, and kangaroos, &c. They begin to return to the coast about September or October, and at this season they chiefly subsist on roots. In calm weather, however, they procure a few fish.

As the season advances, they procure young birds and eggs, and their numbers increase. About Christmas they commence firing the country for game, and the families, who through the winter have been dispersed over the country, reassemble. The greatest assemblages, however, are in the autumn (pourner), when fish are to be procured in the greatest abundance. Towards the end of autumn, also, they kill kangaroos, by surrounding them.

At the dry seasons of the year large districts are abandoned for want of water. They speak much of climbing trees to satisfy their thirst, but I have no knowledge whether it be to procure water from the hollows in the tree, or to extract the sap. I believe they cut a hole with their hammers, and drink, or collect drink in their cloaks, and then carefully close the aperture. In these districts the women climb trees, which is not the case on  he coast.

The scarcity of food has occasioned some other customs, which are curious and characteristic. The men and women go out in separate parties, on their respective duties, generally at an early hour in the morning, in companies of two or three together; the women to collect roots or crayfish (challows), and the men with their spears, to procure fish or game. The women carry a waun, a long pointed stick, with which they dig up roots, and which is occasionally used as a weapon. On their backs they carry a bag (cote) made of a kangaroo’s skin, in which they deposit the food they procure: they also carry a fire-stick.

A portion of the roots, or whatever they may collect, they cook and eat, but reserve part for the children and men, to be eaten on their return to their huts. They also get lizards, snakes, and