"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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April 25, 1926

April 25

At noon today as we approached the native kampong of Waigama on the Island of Misool; the Albatross gave several warning blasts of her whistle followed by a prolonged wail of her siren which caused the Dyaks a lot of uneasiness. The Kampong {p. 32} which is a small one, it is situated prettily in a grove of cocoanut palms back of a flat beach. The houses are of palm thatch, rectangular in shape with steep gabled roofs. The temple which is in the middle is a pyramidal structure with a sort of cupola on top, which latter appeared to be made of corrugated iron. Running out into the water from the beach is a short pier on piles. Through the glasses it could be noticed that only a few people were visible. Some appeared to be quite nude, others were wearing clothes of European cloth. As we stopped our engines about 1/4 mile off shore, a boat came out, rowed by six paddlers and carrying in the stern sheets the one "European" of the island. He obviously had more native blood than European blood however. The three paddlers in the front of the boat were quite Papuan as to the features and hair but their skins were a reddish brown rather than black. They are visited by a boat only about once in a year. On the last visit which was more than six months ago, it was reported that there was a great deal of sickness. The purpose of our stop was to leave two large cases of medicine which were brought back in the rowboat.

We were not stopped more than 15 minutes when we were again on our way. The island itself is rugged and mountainous but apparently not very high. The natives seem basically of Papuan blood but apparently mixed with Malay. We sailed through a large number of islets during the afternoon, and in the evening we passed between the islands of Batanta and {p. 33} Selawat. Sagewin, the strait between, is quite narrow and we were several hours in passing through. Although the land was close at hand on either side, it was too dark to make out more than that each was mountainous rising land steep from the water's edge. As these waters are rarely navigated and the charts none too complete or accurate, the Captain has been on the bridge all day.

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