Local kinship connections
Mentioned in the previous story, Tattambo
(often referred to by Europeans as King
Charles) was apparently born into a clan of
the Ngurai-illum Wurrung people called the
Gunung Willam, whose home country was on
the Campaspe River south of Elmore. The
names of his parents are unknown.
Like his father and any siblings, he was in
the “Waa” or crow moiety. As such, one of
his cultural duties was to conserve and protect
the crow. His mother would have been from
another clan, and if she was from one of the
groups of Aboriginal people in the Kulin
nation, she would have been from a “Bunjil”,
or wedge-tailed eagle, clan and moiety.
Closely linked to the systems of kinship
that were briefl y discussed in the previous
Waranga Dreaming story are the advanced
notions of spirituality that were evident in
the lives of Aboriginal people of this area
prior to European colonisation. Compared
to some of the major religions of today,
Aboriginal spirituality had evolved over tens
of thousands of years, with local variations.
Each member of the Ngurai-illum
Wurrung Aboriginal people belonged to one
of two moieties, Bunjil or Waa. Moiety means
“half” in Latin, and in the local Aboriginal
context means there are two social or ritual
groups into which all people are divided.
Lessons to be learnt
The last story talked about the essential items that the Ngurai-illum Wurrung women would have carried around with them as they moved around country. Similarly, the men would need to select just a few easily-carried items e.g. spears and clubs. Heavy items, such as grinding stones, were left at regularly used campsites.
Carrying essential items
Although it is well established that Aboriginal people in the Waranga area were much more than just hunter-gatherers, there is plenty of evidence of seasonal migration around Ngurai-illum Wurrung country. Before times of travel, the women had to decide what items they would need to always carry with them. There would certainly be a number of small tools, such as a scraper (shell), an awl (bone), a cutting blade (stone) and a yam digging stick amongst the items that would be regularly used. These items could be carried in a bag or basket. In addition, the women may have used another carrying vessel (these days most often referred to as a ‘coolamon’, although that is an anglicised NSW Aboriginal word), an oval U-shaped piece of bark or wood which could be used for transporting food collected on their travels. This would often be carried on the head. It could also be used under an arm to carry a small baby.
Another local resource that has been mentioned in relation to the making of possum skin cloaks was the shells of freshwater mussels. Apparently, the shells were used to scrape excess animal fat from the inside of the possum skins before they were dried. They were also used to incise patterns into the cloaks before they were painted with ochre.