"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 12, 1926 : Head Camp (Lower & Upper) ; Rouffaer River

August 12th

"...we stopped and made camp on a big gravel bar apparently just at the beginning of the real canyon of the Rouffaer."

Early this morning the Papuans were back at the dead line and while camp was breaking up I traded again with them, red beads being my article of exchange. Curiously enough the natives along the Rouffaer seem to have no desire for mirrors, a large supply of which we have with us. The same is true of our large gaudy rings with big "stones" of blue, green, and red glass. Perhaps because we started with beads, we established a standard of exchange. Of course, the big treasure in their eyes is iron, and when a knife is produced there is no further argument. From this point on, the river is quite shallow and a continuous series of rapids. The Dyaks spent at least half of the day in the water. It is very hard work. The stream bed now is all boulders, a welcome change from the mud of the lake plain. There is a variety of very hard, fine grained black rock which contains pyrites in abundance. The Ambonese soldiers think it is gold and every time they step ashore they are busy breaking these rocks; the convicts do it also, but it is a pastime more fitting to their occupation. During the day we saw only three isolated Papuan houses and no people. At 5 in the evening we stopped and made camp on a big gravel bar apparently just at the beginning of the real canyon of the Rouffaer. Here is the place that the Papuans attacked {p. 212} Jordans' party the other day. Two Papuans were killed as they were repulsed, and Jordans moved his camp upstream. This evening has been really chilly, the first cold I have felt in a year.

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