Dobu - >History and Cultural Relations

In the late nineteenth century, Dobuans (Edugaurans in particular) were reputed to be fierce warriors and notorious cannibals who terrorized many of their neighbors. Their trading relations with the islands of Fergusson, Amphletts, and Trobriands to the north, and with the peoples of Duau (Normanby Island) and Tubetube to the south, were conducted in parallel with local raiding enterprises. Contact history began in the mid-nineteenth century with brief visits by whalers and pearlers, and later, in 1884, by "blackbirders" who forcibly recruited a number of men and killed others. Dobu was visited in 1888 by Administrator Sir William MacGregor on his first official tour of the newly proclaimed British New Guinea, and in 1890 by the Reverend George Brown, secretary general of the Australasian Methodist church, who was seeking a headquarters for his mission. By this date copra traders had already settled in the area, steel tools and trade tobacco were in circulation, and European-introduced epidemic diseases were beginning to deplete the population. The arrival on 13 June 1891 of William Bromilow and his missionary party of sixty-three (which included thirty Polynesian evangelists) was probably the most consequential event of local history. Within a few years Bromilow claimed to have pacified the district, though it was more than forty years before the whole Dobu-speaking area was Christianized.

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