Page:Dawson - Australian aborigines (1900).djvu/43

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LAWS OF MARRIAGE.

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kuunamit may marry a kuurokaheear, a kartpœrapp heear, a kappaheear, or a kirtuuk heear, but cannot marry a kuunamit heear.

The traditions of the aborigines say that the first progenitor of the tribes treated of in this volume, the kuukuur minjer, or first great great grandfather, was by descent a kuurokeetch, long-billed cockatoo, but whence he came no one knows. He had for a wife a kappaheear, banksian cockatoo. She is called the kuurappa mœl, meaning first great great grandmother. This original pair had sons and daughters, who, of course, belonged to the class of their mother. The sons were kappatch, and the daughters kappaheear. As the laws of consanguinity forbade marriages between these, it was necessary to introduce wambepan tuuram, 'fresh flesh,' which could be obtained only by marriage with strangers. The sons got wives from a distance. Their sons, again, had to do the same; and thus the pelican, snake, and quail classes were introduced, which, together with those of their first parents, form the five maternal classes which exist all through the Western District.

The laws of the aborigines also forbid a man marrying into his mother's tribe or his grandmother's tribe, or into an adjoining tribe, or one that speaks his own dialect. A man is allowed to marry his brother's widow, or his own deceased wife's sister, or a woman of her tribe; but he is not permitted to do so if he has divorced or killed his wife. He may not marry his deceased wife's daughter by a former husband.

A common man may not have more than one wife at a time. Chiefs, however, may have as many wives as they think proper. The sons of chiefs may marry two wives.

Chiefs, and their sons and daughters, are married only into the families of other chiefs. If a chief persists in marrying a commoner, his children by that marriage are not disinherited; but such marriages are highly disapproved of. The natives say that if chiefs were permitted to marry commoners, it would lead to endless quarrels and jealousies.

When a married man dies, his brother is bound to marry the widow if she has a family, as it is his duty to protect her and rear his brother's children. If there is no brother, the chief sends the widow to her own tribe, with whom she must remain till her period of mourning is ended. Those of her children who are under age are sent with her, and remain with their mother's tribe till they come of age, when they return to their father's tribe, to which they belong. After the period of mourning for her deceased husband expires, the relatives of