Comparing Stories: Australia and Papua New Guinea

I’ve been reading Some Myths and Legends of the Australian Aborigines by W.J. Thomas.  I picked it up to gain some more discussion topics before my next trip.  I was assuming the stories would be unfamiliar, something different for me to wrap my mind around.  But instead, I found myself seeing many similarities to Onobasulu stories from PNG.  I have almost the entire Onobasulu library in my head because I spent so much time editing, typing, formatting and organizing books.  I know that Papua New Guinea isn’t that far from Australia but it is far enough to have very different indigenous cultures.  However, I always enjoy looking at similarities more than focusing on the differences.

There were many stories that as I read, I feel like I had heard them before.  Maybe the animals and circumstances were a bit different but the outcomes were very similar.  I remember listening to Native American stories as a child in school and being lost in the tales.  I especially loved the explanations of why things were the way they were.  These are great stories for children but they are also the type of stories that can be told around the campfire.  Creation from another perspective.

Since I can’t really post an Aboriginal story from the book, here is one of my favorite Onobasulu stories written by Joseph Hambowali.  Joseph is one of the Onobasulu Bible translators.  The story is called The Cockatoo and the Hornbill.

One day a white cockatoo and a hornbill went to swim. They arrived at the river, took off their feathers and put them on the ground. Then they went swimming.

While the white cockatoo was still swimming the hornbill got out of the water and went to put back on his feathers. As he was putting on his feathers he stole the cockatoo’s white feathers.

The hornbill was ready to fly away when the white cockatoo came out of the river and saw that the hornbill was wearing his feathers.

He was very angry to see the hornbill wearing his feathers. So he got a stick with a thorn and scratched the hornbill’s beak.

And now there is a mark on the hornbill’s beak and also the cockatoo’s white feathers on his tail. Today you can still see the mark on the hornbill’s beak and the cockatoo’s white feathers in his tail.

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