The Wild Tribes of Davao District, Mindanao by Fay-Cooper Cole


This is a repost.

The material presented in this paper was obtained, for the most part, during a stay of seven months among the tribes of Davao District in Southern Mindanao of the Philippine Islands. Previous to this I had spent a like period studying the Bukidnon, of the North-Central part of the Island, and while thus engaged, had penetrated to within about fifty miles of the Gulf of Davao. In order to trace migrations, relationships, and trade routes, it was determined to continue the work from the Gulf coast toward the interior. In pursuance of this plan I went to Davao in July, nineteen hundred and ten.

All information to be secured from publications, settlers, or natives was to the effect that there were at least fourteen distinct tribes to be met with in the Gulf region. The preliminary reconnaissance of the field made it plain that the earlier classifications were greatly at fault. Several divisions recognized as tribes were found to be only dialect groups, while others differing in no essential respects from one another secured names from the districts in which they resided. It was also found that in recent years there had been a considerable movement of the hill people toward the coast, and that in some places they had penetrated and established themselves in the territory formerly held by other tribes.

The capture of slaves, intermarriage, and trade between the groups have been powerful influences in obliterating tribal lines, thus adding further confusion to the classification of the people.

The field offered so much of interest that I determined to make detailed studies of the various tribes encountered. The work progressed satisfactorily for seven months, when a severe illness caused me to leave the tropics for a time, at least. As a result the work with the Gulf tribes is still far from complete. The tribes living on or near the upper waters of the Agusan river and north of Compostela were not visited, and, hence, will not be mentioned here, while certain other divisions received only scant attention. No attempt is here made to treat of the Christianized or Mohammedanized people, who inhabit a considerable part of the coast and the Samal Islands, further than to indicate their influence on the wild tribes. Both have settled in Davao District in historic times, and have taken many native converts into their villages. From these settlements new ideas, types of garments, and industries have spread toward the interior, while the extensive slave trade carried on by the Moro has had a marked effect on all the tribes with whom they have come in contact.

In the preparation of this paper I have, so far as possible, drawn on the knowledge of others to fill in the gaps in my own notes. In spite of this the information on certain groups is still so scanty that this can be, at best, only a sketch. It is offered at this time in the hope that it may serve as a help to other anthropologists who may plan to visit this most interesting field.

I wish here to extend my thanks to the various civil and military authorities who gave me valuable assistance; also to Captain James Burchfield, H. S. Wilson, James Irwin, Otto Hanson, William Gohn, Henry Hubbell, and Juan de la Cruz, planters, whose wide knowledge of, and acquaintance with the interior tribes made possible my work in many localities.

It is a pleasure and a duty to acknowledge the assistance rendered by my wife, who accompanied me throughout my Philippine work. Her presence made it possible to secure the complete confidence of the hill people, and thus to gain an insight into their home life which otherwise would have been impossible. A large part of the material here presented, particularly that relating to the women, was gathered by her and many of the photographs are from her camera.

The dialects spoken by the tribes of central and southern Mindanao are to be dealt with in a separate publication, so that at this time I shall merely give a brief description of the characters appearing in the native names used in this paper. The consonants are pronounced as in English, except r which is as in Spanish. c is used as ch in churchñ, which occurs frequently, is a palatal nasal. There is no clear articulation and the stop is not present, but the back of the tongue is well up on the soft palate.

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