"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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May 18, 1926 : Papuans of Bisano ; Mamberamo River ; Albatross Camp (Base Camp)

May 18th

This morning le Roux and I went with a motor boat and a Dyak canoe with the Papuans in their canoe to find their village which they are now willing to lead us to. We went upstream into the gorge of the river a little way and then hauled ashore at the mouth of the first good sized tributary on the east bank about five or six miles above the camp. The motor boat had considerable trouble going through the rapids which begin here. The river (tributary) is a fine mountain stream with a broad rocky bed. We started up on foot with two young boys who had been waiting at the mouth of the river. One had red hair and white skin, but did not appear to be an Albino as his eyes were quite normal. The other boy had one eye missing as a result of having been shot in the eye with an arrow by the Papuans from the other side of the river. These boys had a good number of tubers of some sort with them, wrapped in [V1: crossed out "a"] large leaves. About a mile farther up the stream we met three more men of the tribe who appeared to be waiting. We made a motley procession as we proceeded upstream, le Roux and I with the Papuans leading, the Dyaks coming next and our two soldiers thoughtfully bringing up the rear where they would have the whole parade under their eyes. The stream was very pretty, with a broad rocky bed and clear water. Nearer the Mamberamo there {p. 77} is a lot of quicksand which we had difficulty in getting through. One of the soldiers got in the quicksand up to his waist and it required the combined efforts of three men to get him out. The rock formation is principally a blue shale with seams of gypsum and coal. I brought back a couple of samples of each. After proceeding up this stream for about 3 miles, as the afternoon was getting along and we had no means of knowing how much farther was the kampong, we decided to turn back to the motor boat as otherwise we could not return to camp by dark. So explaining to our escorts that we would come back in five days, we about faced to the Mamberamo.

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