Howitt to Fison 20/9/1878

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Transcription - Page 5

terms which might arise under a well
developed punduan family system
into the pairing family. In the Kamilaroi
who [I - crossed out] are I suppose in a fully developed
group = marriage system it seems to me
we might expect to find a redundancy of
terms expressive of new relationships - i.e. if they
have been developing that system fully for
a long period. This is only a "suggestion" as
my friend Baron von Mueller would say.

I shall draw up and send you the
statement of relationships which you mention.
I do not as yet see any additions to make to them.
In the matter of chieftainship and what you
say about "polygamy and descent through the
father bringing disintegration and reqaining control
authority" - I must say a few words. I do not
think I can assent to that view. I may as
shortly as possible - I fear not as clearly as possible
summarise my views.
Among the Brabrolung (Kurni) I find authority centred
in the father - in the elders of the division - in the elders of the
clan. I find a belief that the spirits of the ancestors not only
wander about, but visit their descendents in dreams and
in [?silent?] forms for instance in charms against the sorcery of
others. I might extend this but this much will suffice for my
purpose. It is conceivable that the pairing system of the
Kurni might become fixed as monogamian, the fathers
with power of life and death as regards his wife + children might
develop into the "house father" with jus vitae necisque as regards
his family and he would be aswerable to none but to his
ancestors. The belief which I have referred to as regarding them
might develop into the belief in the presence of the
ancestors as the sacred hearth the "Lar familiares"
who would watch over his descendents. This system would
be that of the Aryan progenitors of our race; and such
a development would not have passed through

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Document Details

Date 20 September 1878
Letter From Howitt, Alfred William
Letter To Fison, Reverend Lorimer
Country Australia
Holding Institution St Mark's National Theological Centre
Collection Name Alan Tippett/Lorimer Fison Collection
Registration Number tip70-10-33-18
Medium Letter
Region Gippsland
Locality Sale
Summary Lengthy discussion regarding their theories, customs and practices mainly of the Gippsland groups, and their forthcoming joint publication, Kamilaroi and Kurnai. Howitt has completed his first draft of about 50 foolscap pages.
Physical Description Handwritten in ink, signed and dated.