28th January 1933 cont. - Nallae and trading for weapons with flour and tea

source icon They all came up the creek preceded by the head man with a few fighters. Next, followed the women with the 'baggage' and the children and then the rest of the forces behind. The women had a few stitches of clothing of very little use unless held together. They were carrying wooden pitchis on their heads with skill and grace. The rest were all naked except for one pair of trousers scrounged from somewhere and on this occasion worn with arms through the legs. They seemed to be worn by a different person every day.

They gathered round and stared so I kept them interested with the movie camera while Murch did a few quick sketches. Then we started to trade for weapons using a little flour, tea and sugar for money and in a surprisingly short time we had quite a good collection. Using signs and pigeon English we managed to get on pretty well. Most of this had to be done without Hezekiel who seemed rather nervous and went into his shell.

As the day wore on more natives began to collect round our camp some being of the Nallae tribe from the north. They were taller, more copper coloured and thinner legged than the Arundta or Loritcha. The Loritcha seemed a good deal blacker than the Arundta. I went off and shot as many rabbits and wallabies as I could and gave most away to the natives to establish good will. Hezekiel obviously disapproved. I began to wonder if something was afoot as so many natives were gathering.

The Nallae seemed to have pitchuri and this was being traded to the locals for red ochre, a few of whom got very excited and silly about it. Larnach said that he saw some men with ochre paint and white feathers stuck on with blood while I was off hunting, but they skirted round the camp, he thought some corroboree or ceremony was brewing

The natives appear quite unconcerned about white people though they watched our every movement. They respect our camp and keep off their dogs. The children are not at all shy and none of them appear curious. They very rarely play and seem from the tenderest age to perform quite a number of camp duties like getting water etc.

In the afternoon Titus the missionary turned up and had a yarn with us about future plans, always an opportunist he tried to screw a bit of flour out of us, but went away unrewarded and quite happy, the natives going with him. We wondered if his visit was some sort of watch on us by the mission and felt sure that it was. At least he could have reported that we didn't touch black women, which was apparently their main concern with visitors, though how one could have co-habited with a black woman was beyond my understanding. Both he and Hezekiel seemed put out about all the blacks, not part of their flock perhaps. Titus lost no time in moving on in order to get some distance away. It rather confirmed the corroboree theory, which might have brought the wrath of Albrecht on their heads, if they took part. But we could get nothing out of either of them, though they must have known what was going on.

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