Maring - History and Cultural Relations

Linguistic and other evidence suggests that the Maring came into their present territory from some undetermined region to the south. Traditional trade relations have long existed between the Maring and other peoples of the region. Contact with Europeans came late to Maring territory; the first Australian patrol did not arrive in the region until 1954, and governmental control of the area was not fully effected until 1962. However, the indirect effects of an Australian presence were felt as early as the 1940s, as steel tools entered the regional trade network and European diseases (dysentery and measles) struck the region. Also predating the actual entry of Australians in the region was the arrival of cargo cults, which were introduced by peoples from the north of Maring territory and had a brief popularity in the 1940s. However, after the Marings' early participation in cargo-cult activities, such practices quickly fell into disuse. As part of the Australian government's efforts to bring the Maring into its orbit, a headman ( luluai ) and assistant headman ( tultul ) were appointed, but these positions had little to do with local affairs, serving only as points of contact for dealings with the government.

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