The Indigenous Tribes in Papua

The Indigenous Tribes in Papua

Papua is the largest Indonesian province located in the eastern part of Indonesia. Papua used to cover the entire western part of Papua, but since 2003 it has been divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua. Papua has an area of ​​808,105-squer km and is the second largest island in the world after Greenland and largest island in Indonesia.

The view from characteristics based on culture, subsistence and manner, the indigenous Papuans can be divided into five major groups such as: the mountain Papua, inland forest Papua, highlands Papua, lowland Papua and Papua coastal sea. The traditional religious beliefs of the Papuan are united and absorbed into all aspects of life, they have an integral worldview that is closely related to each other between the materials, spiritual, secular and sacred worlds have the same function. Papua is a huge community of individual groups scattered throughout the inland forests and valleys. Each group has a name for its own tribe. In Papua many of the hinterland tribes are still embracing their historic traditions like wearing ‘koteka’ even though times have changed to modern. Here are some tribes that still existence.


Amungme Tribe

The Amungme tribe is one of the tribes living in the highlands of Papua. The tribe has a tradition of shifting agriculture and hunting. The people of this tribe inhabit several large valleys in Mimika and Puncak Jaya districts among the high mountains such as the Bella valley, Alama, Aroanop, and Wa. Some live in the valleys of Beoga and the lowlands of Agimuga and in the town of Timika. Amungme consists of two words “Amung” which means first and “mee” which means man. The Amungme tribe assumes that they are the conquerors, rulers and heirs of nature amungsa from the hands of Nagawan Into (God). This tribe has two languages Amung-kal spoken by the people living in the south and Damal-kan for the people living in the north. Amungme tribe also has a symbol language is Aro-a-kal. This language is a symbol language that is difficult to understand and communicate. The Amungme tribe is one of the tribes living in the highlands of Papua.


Arfak Tribe

Arfak tribe is tribe who living in Arfak, Manokwari, West Papua Province. Arfak tribe consists of 4 sub tribes, among others; Hatam tribe, Moilei tribe, Meihag tribe, and Sohug tribes. Each tribe has the leader’s tribe, in a tribe of various clans, such as the Moilei tribe, Kowi, Saiba, Mandacan, Sayori, Ullo, Ayok, Indow, Wonggor and many other clans. 5 tribes 5 Language mean that each tribe has 1 language and different cultures. The Arfak Tribe is the largest indigenous tribe in Manokwari district, most of who live in the central part of Papua. The Arfak tribe consists of several sub-tribes namely, Suogb, Hatam and Meyah, which have the same customs, and cultures but different languages. Although they have different languages, sub-tribal can understand each other and communicate directly. The Arfak villages are located in the vicinity of Arfak Mountains Nature Reserve Area.

Traditionally, Arfak tribe lived in closed houses that have only two doors, front and back without windows. The building is unique, built with the construction of houses on stilts made entirely of wood and grass as a roof. Mod Aki Aksa or Igkojei is the original name of the traditional house of the great tribe of Arfak; consisting of many pole piers the layman calls it ‘The House of One Thousand Feet’. Today the population is diminishing and can only be found in the villages, the outskirts of the inland districts in the central part of the Arfak Mountain.


Asmat Tribe

Asmat tribe is a tribe known for its unique woodcarving. The Asmat population is divided into two groups: some living on the seacoast and others living in the inland of forest. These two populations differ from one another in terms of dialect, way of life, social structure and ritual. The coastal population is further divided into two parts: the Bisman tribe that lived between the Sinesty river and Nin river has lived Simai.

Asmat tribe spread and inhabited the area around Arafuru Sea and Jayawijaya mountains, with a fairly heavy terrain considering the occupied area is jungle. In the life of Asmat tribe, the stones we used to see on the streets were very valuable to them. In fact, the stones can be used as a dowry. All this is because the Asmat people live in swamps, making it very difficult to find stones that are very useful for them to make axes, hammers, and some other hefty equipment.

The Asmat leadership system is more emphasized on the ability and authority of a man who has a mighty body and has many experiences in combat. But in social life and political life every village usually has a traditional leader called ‘yeu iwi’r, and each yeu federation has a leader called tese wu. These leaders of tribe are assisted by a number of advisors called arak amsewir, the wise elders who are rich with experience.


Bauzi Tribe

The Bauzi tribe has several names namely Bazi, Baudi and Bauri, the population of the Bauzi tribe according to the 1991 census is 1,500. They are alienated due to living in isolated areas, barely untouched by outer civilizations. The tribe is still alive in traditional ways, they are from the northern Waropen region, the tribe is spread by canoe down the river and also on foot. They spread from the north to the central parts of the Mamberamo region.

Bauzi tribesmen still wear loincloths (a kind of genital closet, in the form of a leaf or bark of a dried tree and tied with a string on the tip of the genitals). They also stimulate the bone in the nasal. While women wear a leaf or tree bind tied at the waist to cover her private parts without wearing a chest cover.


Dani Tribe

Dani is one of the many tribes that exist in the Central Highlands stretching to the entire Jayawijaya Regency. According to the mythology of the Dani tribe comes from descent. Husband and wife are live in a lake around the village of Maina in the South Baliem Valley. They have children named Woita and Waro. Danis are prohibited from marrying relatives of the Moety tribe so that their marriage is principally the exogamy of Moety (the marriage of Moety / with those outside Moety). Dani’s tribal clothes for men use ” koteka ” (male genital cover). Koteka is made of kunden (yellow squash). While the customary clothing of women using wah clothes derived from the grass.


Korowai Tribe

Dutch missionaries only discovered Korowai tribe live in the Kaibar region, Mappi Regency of Papua, this tribe in 1974. Previously, they really did not know anyone outside their group. Different with other tribes in Papua who built Honai homes, Korowai tribe lived in tree houses. They live in tree houses as high as 15 to 50 meters. They build houses in trees to avoid wild animals, enemies, and evil spirits. The korowai tribe believe that, the higher their house, the farther away from the disturbance of evil spirits.

Korowai tribe began to be exposed and known as ‘the Cannibal Tribe’ because they have a cultural habit to eat pieces of the human body. Cannibalism in the Korowai tribe does not just happen for no reason. There are certain rules in terms of eating human body. A journalist, who once lived with them named Paul Raffaele, said that the cannibalism by this tribe is very contrary to the perception of the wider community. They will not eat human body, except in the practice of their life to deviate from their social norms. One example of irregularities is the practice of shamanism or witches they call the term “Khakhua”. Cannibalism for them is a cultural custom, which has been handed down from generation to generation. It is a social rule for crimes committed and benefits the tribal community by punishing the bad by making their body as a food fulfillment. But on their openness to the outside world today, cannibalism has been abandoned and replaced by a normal law in social society.


Moni Tribe

Moni tribe is from Intan jaya, Papua. Moni tribe still holds firm belief to always respect their ansestors. This is done by holding ceremonies, slaughtering pigs and burning stones. Moni tribe is also one of the tribes who still wear Koteka. The women are still using the clothes nicknamed wow that comes from the grass and live in Honai-Honai (a hut thatched the hay). Some tribal people have embraced Christian religion, due to the influence of European missionaries who had come to the site entered in Wandae kemandoga around 1935. Thus the moni tribe still has the belief that all the power possessed by the ancestors tribe moni given to the male generations. Supernatural powers are, among others, the maintenance of the garden, the miracle cure or to avoid the disease, and the power to give fertility to the soil used to grow crops.

Although some have embraced Christianity, tribe living in forests with a tropical climate that is very rich in flora and fauna is still performing a series of traditional ceremonies, one of which is Rekwasi. Rekwasi is a traditional ceremony performed to honor the ancestors. While performing this ceremony, the participants also equipped themselves with traditional weapons such as spears, axes, machetes, and also the bow and arrows. There are many unique traditions of ancestral heritage in the Moni tribe that is maintained very well by its community. They believe that respecting ancestors is an appropriate way of appreciating nature.


Muyu Tribe

Muyu tribe is one of the tribes in Papua who lived around the Muyu River located in the East Sea of ​​Merauke. The language used is Muyu language. There are two initial estimates of the term “Muyu”. First, it is thought to emerge with the entry of the Catholic Mission brought by Dutch priest Peter Hoeboer in 1933. Second, the term “Muyu” predicted that locals call the Kao River in the west with Fly in the east with the term “ok Mui” or “Mui River” to the Dutch. The mention of it eventually turns into Muyu. The main subsistence of society are hunting, fishing, raising pigs and dogs, and producing sago. In Muyu society is not known a leader (chairman), both in social and religious life. The characteristic of the Muyu tribe is to have individualism – not depend on others, to visit relatives, to exchange business results, to visit relatives’ graves, to collect debts, to trade and to go for some magical power. Illness or death is always seen as a result of witchcraft.

The life of the Muyu tribe as a hard worker and has a strong determination. This feature is still owned by Muyu people to this day. Muyu tribe is considered the most intelligent inland tribe. Muyu people occupy the majority of important positions in Boven Digoel’s bureaucratic structure and the approximately 1,800 civil servants, about 45 percent of the Muyu tribe. Some became regents. They are frugal, work harder than other tribes, and highly value education.


Sentani Tribe

Sentani tribe from Lake Sentani, Jayapura has an estimated population around 30,000. Currently, these ethnic settlements are concentrated in three geographical areas. First, western groups are concentrated on Yonokom Island. On this island there are several villages like Doyo, Sosiri, Yakonde, and Dodai. They use their own dialect. Second, the eastern group is concentrated on Asei Island. The group is spread in four villages, namely Ayapo, Asei Kecil, Waena, and Yoka. Third, the central group concentrated on Ifar Island. Their villages are called Kabetrow, Ifar Besar, Ifar Kecil, Siboiboi.


Kamoro Tribe

The Kamoro tribe is living in the southern coastal area of Papua, in Mimika Regency, with an area of about 250 km stretching from the River Otakwa on the east side to the Potowai Buru on the west side. As a semi-nomadic society, the Kamoro live in three ecosystems, tropical rainforests, mangrove swamp and richly food-rich estuaries. The Kamoro tribe is rich in various cultures, including weaving by women, engraving by men, singing, dancing, legend and ritual ‘karapao’, which are still held today.


Yali Tribe

The Yali tribe occupies the eastern part of the central mountains of Papua. Yahukimo and Yalimo regencies are new districts resulting from the expansion of Jayawijaya regency. Yahukimo’s own name is taken from the four major tribes living in Yahukimo, namely: Yali, Hubla, Kimyal, and Momuna that form the name of Yahukimo while the name Yalimo is the name of Yalimo own Tribe. Other tribes in Yahukimo district are Una Ukam, Mek, Ngalik, Tokuni, Obini, Korowai, Duwe, Obukain, Kopkaka and Bese, while other tribes in Yalimo district are 94% of the Yali tribe and 6% several other tribes. Regency of Yahukimo is adjancent to Regency of Jayawijaya and Regency of Tolikara in the north, Regency of Mimika in the west, Regency of Pegunungan Bintang in the east, Regency of Asmat and Mappi in the west. Like most of the central mountain peoples of Papua, the Yali tribe has a livelihood as traditional farmer (cultivated) betatas (Suburu), taro (Hom), and hunting. The staple food is Suburu (Betatas, taro, red fruits, coconut forests, and other seasonal foods) Yali tribe loves jewelry such as shellfish, bird feathers, piglets and other jewels. The Yali tribe society wears a long koteka, and when it is worn by rather horizontal and straightforward cotton then covering the chest with a rattan coil. Before the gospel came in, the tribe of yalis embraced the belief in animism like the people of Papua in general. However, after the gospel entered the religion of the Yali tribe 99% Christian Protestant.


Duga Tribe

Duga tribe lives in the southern central mountains. They farm sweet potato, taro and pigs. Currently duga tribe administratively entered the district of Nduga, which is the result of the expansion of Jayawijaya regency, the capital of Nduga regency is Tiom. There are several similarities of language between Nduga, Nayak, Lani, and Yali. For example, the word “an” which means me, or Arabic to be ana, “wam” means pig, and “ap” means man. Duga people believe that their ancestors came from Seinma that is a village in Kurima. The people who live in tropical area such as Mapnduma, the mid-area as in Mbua, and people in cold areas such as Yigi distinguish diffently the people of duga. In the community duga has its own garden, hunting area and pandanus land.


Damal tribe

The Damal tribe is one of the tribes in the mountains of Papua. Damal language is a communication between fellow Damals. Damage people in ancient times cooked food using fire. Fire is made with “Hagan” which is a small dry wood that is defended in the middle and uses a dry rattan rope, rattan ropes clamped with dry middle which is defended, then the two ends of rattan rope in the drag continuously until the friction between the rope and wooden ropes starts heat, then smokes until the rope breaks and produces fire. Damal people call themselves as “Damalme”. Damalme consists of two words: “me” meaning “human”, so Damalme can literally be interpreted as “Damal man” or “Damal person”. Damalme or Damal people reportedly existed for the first time by Dutch investigators, namely J.V. de Bruyn and his friends, who approached the Damal from the Wisselmeren lakes. Previously, Damal tribe had been visited by the Carstensz expedition of England under the leadership of Wollaston, and in 1936 by the Carstensz expedition led by Dr. Colijn.


Mee tribe

The Mee tribe lived in the Western Highlands of Western Papua. Typical areas of the Mee tribe are around Lake Paniai, Lake Tage, Lake Tigi, Dogiyai Valley) and Mapiha mountains / Mapisa. However, the Mee administration is now administered in ten districts of Paniai District and four Districts of Nabire Regency. Mee culture is one of the adoptions of several cultures and traditions that exist in the middle mountains of Papua Mee community. The purpose of the Mee tribe is formed and exist in the world is to preserve and preserve this culture instead of being a follower of other cultures. A tradition will arise when a person has a problem and how they faced and solved the problem. So the way the person solves that problem will become a tradition within that tribe. So it will be a symbol by forming a ritual for example yuwo ceremony (gold ceremony) with the creator of this ceremony or a pig farmer from the village uwamani.

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