"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 26, 1926 : Papuans of Bisano ; Mamberamo River ; Albatross Camp (Base Camp)

May 26th

This morning le Roux and I went in six Dyak canoes and two motor boats, accompanied by Posthumous and Jordans, a dozen soldiers and about 25 convict carriers as well as the canoe load of Papuans, to the mouth of the little river visited {p.85} by le Roux and me on May 18th. Here, guided by the Papuans and with our train of carriers following, we started up the stream. We continued upstream until about 4:30, just before a good sized stream enters from the north bank, and here we stopped and made camp. As on the other visit, we saw considerable coal and gypsum along the stream. A small stream of sulphur water entered the stream at one place. When we had reached the mouth of the river which the Papuans call Uama[,] the Papuan canoe failed to appear and although we waited about an hour they did not come. Two of them had accompanied us in a Dyak canoe and with these as our guides we started out. One of them, Masuka, has a finer face than any of the others, but although he is the most intelligent, he is also the most dangerous. In 1922 when the last expedition was as at Pioneer camp, a group of this same tribe visited the camp. While they were there a Boromesa canoe appeared, and Masuka, before anyone could divine his purpose, killed three of them with arrows. After we had reached our camp the rest of the Papuans caught up with us. The camp is in a beautiful spot in a bend in the river. It was interesting to watch the soldiers and convicts make camp. They very quickly make a clearing with their knives and then erect the temporary shelters with materials collected from the jungle.

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