Quoting archival Interview with past Missionaries

I can’t remember if I ever posted this. It is one of many ‘gems’ from the archival material I stumbled across in the course of research. I’d love to, one day, write a short novella on the mission period up in NE Arnhem. It was such a strangely complex and intimate time in the local history of Intercultural relations. Intimate in a number of ways. Anyhow – ‘Miss’ is Missionary not ‘Miss’.

Int: ‘Your time was fully taken up with the dispensary work?’

Miss1: ‘Oh, yes, and the sewing class.’

Int: ‘You held sewing classes with the native women?’

Miss1: ‘Yes.’

Int: ‘And did they respond to the sewing class quite well?’

Miss1: ‘Oh yess, they enjoyed it quite well.’

Int: ‘And you had the material sent over from Darwin?’

Miss1: ‘Yes, and from south too.’

Miss2: It came in the mission boxes.’

Miss1: We had a lot of mission boxes which had rolls of material and we used those. We made mostly skirts in those days.’

Int: ‘I was going to say, I suppose skirts for the women, and the kiddies, would they wear very much at all?’

Miss1: ‘No, not much at all.’

Int: ‘Little loin clothes or nothing perhaps?’

Miss1: ‘Mostly nothing.’

Miss2: ‘Nothing usually.’

Int: ‘And the natives generally, did they like wearing cloths, or nothing at all?’

Miss1: ‘Oh, I think they liked to get into clothes.’

Miss2: ‘They liked them too much.’

Int: ‘Like to wear clothes too much?’

Miss1: ‘Oh, yes.’

Int: ‘Because of the weather they were really better naked, weren’t they? That was their normal way of living.’

Miss1: ‘Yes, but they saw us with clothes and they copied us more or less.’

Int: ‘And being so near the sea, htye were used to water and used to swimming?’

Miss1: ‘Yes.’

Int: ‘The normal way of being unclothes was more suitable?’

Miss1: ‘Yes, I’m sure.’

Int: ‘But it was a good thing, and a handy thing, for them to know how to sew?’

Miss1: ‘And learn to wash and how to keep themselves clean.’

Int: ‘Yes, so that your time was fully taken up with that?’

Miss1: ‘Yes.’

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Filed under Anthropology, Thesis/Yolngu related writing

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