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Wed May 4 18:08:57 EDT 2011

Australia the eagle is used instead of the crow. The substitution in the south west is due to the presence of little corella's (white cockatoos) in large numbers often intermixed with crows. Manitch and Wardang carry other meanings - manitch
means manager and was used as slang for policeman; wardang means watcher. The doer and the watcher. The owner and the manager of land or sacred sites. All land based ceremony takes place under the auspices of the owner of a site and it's

Critically one always takes one's wife or husband from the opposite moiety. One's children may inherit their moeity from either their father or their mother depending upon the local custom.

Within this tao like division their can be further subdivisions. In the south Tondarup, Didaruk, and others that may alternate with generations or be inherited directly. A little thought reveals that the owner and the manager then manifest as
one's mother's brother and as oneself.

In the desert, this scheme is elaborated into the 8 'skin' (or section) system used amongst the Pitjantjatjara, Pintubi, Walpiri and others or the six skins system of the Nganatjara. These elaborations have spread in recent years and been
adopted by tribes who previously had 4 skin systems.

Everyone who works in a desert community is given a skin name soon after arrival and fitted into the scheme. Old people will deal with Aboriginal strangers from other parts of the country by first enquiring as to their local skin and then after
much discussion work out what the appropriate skin is within the local community.

Once your skin is ascertained then one 1/8 of the people are your classificatory mothers and mother's brothers and sisters, 1/8th are your sisters and brothers, 1/8th are your potential spouses, 1/8th are your son in law or mother in-law who
you should not speak to but regularly offer gifts and presents to.

I'm really skimming the surface here but this is a taste of what's involved.

There is an ongoing debate about whether Aboriginal culture/people are really like the rest of us or are really different. This debate is commonly heard in racist circles. IMHO the cultural differences between Aboriginal and European culture
are profound and constantly downplayed because of the poor reflection that they cast upon the cultural habits of Europeans.

But hey that's another story.


Bob Howard

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