Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/67

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CHAPTER VII.


GENERAL COUNCILS — MOURNING — ORNAMENTED
OPOSSUM CLOAKS — FERRY-BOATS — JUVENILE EX-
ERCISES— CULINARY PROCESS.

Like civilized nations, the tribes of Australia have their great councils, alliances, and international laws. One of their diets, held at the camp of a tribe in the neighbourhood of Port Macquarie, is described as lasting for several days. The tribe on whose territory the assemblage took place appear to have been looked upon, for some cause or other, as possessing merit and wisdom in more than an ordinary degree, and hence, it is said, that on all occasions of emergency or difficulty the surrounding tribes repaired to them for counsel and judgment. They seem to have been the Levites of the tribes. The objects for which those general councils were assembled were, for the most part, the settlement of disputed boundaries and the undertaking of warlike expeditions. Sometimes, however, delegates from various tribes have assembled on occasions of less import, as, for instance, to assist in a hunting expedition or join in some ceremony or game. Seasons of more than ordinary plenty, when the plains abounded more than usual in game or the rivers in fish, were in general favourite periods for holding these gatherings, from which it is to be inferred that they were as often the result of a rude