"By Aeroplane to Pygmyland" Accounts of the 1926 Smithsonian-Dutch Expedition to New Guinea

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Journal of Matthew Stirling
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August 10, 1926 : Motor Camp ; Rouffaer River

August 10

Posthumous, Van Leeuwen, Le Roux and I, with nine canoes left upstream from Motor Camp this A.M. When we rounded the turn above camp we heard Papuans shouting on the shore and found that they had returned to the houses we had found abandoned on our first arrival at Motor Camp. I presume the knives Le Roux and I left had something to do with their return. About two hours above camp we came upon about 15 men on shore by two houses, one of which, though rather rickety, is the largest I have yet seen. We landed and they soon came out to trade with us. In the group was one young man whom we had seen up the small river we recently explored, which proves these people travel about considerably. After much shouting and dancing and some trading, we went on and in about an hour came to a section of the river where the bed is cut up into many small islands. Here we unexpectedly came upon another village on a small island with a good sized group of men. They were very nervous and we soon induced them to trade. In the afternoon we came to still a third village where we landed. The men here were very excited and nervous. Only Le Roux and I went ashore, but they ran into the jungle and it was half an hour before we succeeded in coming closer than thirty feet to them. A big knife finally turned the trick and we did some trading. The river above Motor Camp is very broad, shallow and swift {p. 208} with a good many islands. There is no backwash along the shores to help the canoes so that it is hard work for the Dyaks. The native population seems to be increasing the further we progress upstream. We made camp on a low bank on the south side of the river, evidently near a Papuan village as we could hear them shouting all evening but none came around the camp.

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