Skip navigation
Skip navigation

Febi family meeting European for the first time

This item is provided for research purposes. Contact the Australian National University Archives at for permission to use.

Download (32.02 MB)

CollectionsDavid Eastburn
Title: Febi family meeting European for the first time
Author(s): Photographer: David R. Eastburn, 1949-
Description: Photographer's note: The small girl second from the right was not a member of the family
however, Febi families were generally quite small. It was a strong cultural tradition to give each baby the best chance of survival, including to ensure that its life-protecting soul is firmly attached, by spacing them at least 3 to 4 years apart. While being quite aware of Europeans as evidenced by the husband’s safety-pin ear-ring, red trade beads, cotton cloth pubic covering, and aircraft regularly flying overhead
there had been a conscious decision by elders to avoid contact with outsiders where possible. For more than a decade (to 1977), Febi elders had attempted to protect members of their communities from the effects of introduced disease. They had observed that immediately following one of the infrequent patrols through the area, or adjacent areas, that many members of the villages visited became ill and some died. They had forbidden contact with patrols passing through the area, and prevented visits to groups that had been recently contacted. They also stopped all travel outside of their territory. It was easy for the Febi to avoid the infrequent patrols. They simply ‘melted’ into the rainforest. If a persistent patrol decided wait, as occurred during a census in 1972, they would ‘go hunting’ until it was forced to leave as it ran out of supplies. Patrols through such isolated areas necessarily involved a large number of people and it was inevitable that some members would be carrying disease. Their presence was also obvious. For example, a patrol led by James Hunter in April and May 1969, included six police, two official interpreters and 77 carriers. ‘Minor’ illnesses that are an inconvenience to those with immunity can be fatal to those without resistance, like the Febi who have been insulated by their isolation. Avoidance of contact with outsiders may also have been a response to social memory of the impacts on populations of measles and influenza epidemics that swept through nearby areas in the 1950s and influenza outbreaks in 1969 and 1972. This photograph was shot between the north (Tokomo/ Dogomo) and south (Abai) branches of the Liddle River.
Other Identifiers: ANUA 717-3


File Description SizeFormat Image
ANUA 717-003.tif32.02 MBTIFFThumbnail

Items in Open Research are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

Updated:  17 November 2022/ Responsible Officer:  University Librarian/ Page Contact:  Library Systems & Web Coordinator