Medicine: Interrupted Song

The wiry young Gubabwingu tribesman found lying in the bush near the Yirrkala Methodist Mission, 400 miles east of Darwin in North Australia's desolate Arnhem Land, was paralyzed in the arms and legs and could scarcely breathe. Suspecting polio, the missionaries radioed for an air ambulance, and soon a 20th century thunderbird flew in to take Lya Wulumu (nicknamed Charlie), 19, from his Stone Age hunting grounds to Darwin Hospital. There four white doctors went to work on him.

A thorough examination showed no sign of polio. X rays revealed nothing. There seemed to be nothing wrong with Charlie's heart or...

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