Indigenous Film Index: Papua New Guinea



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culture groups


Baruya


The Baruya are a tribe in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. There are approximately 1500 Baruya people living in the Wonenara and Marawaka valleys.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Baruya Language – language-archives.org
Bodies, power(s), and kinship in the Baruya Culture – University of Chicago

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Bedamini (Biami)


The Bedamini (Biami) are an Indigenous culture group in Papua New Guinea numbering about 4000 people. They are horticulturists living in the Nomad River area of the Great Papuan Plateau. Their territory is 300-600 meters in altitude, and is in a tropical rain forest zone. Other names for this group are Beami or Bedamuni.

Source:
Sørum, Arve. “THE SEEDS OF POWER: Patterns in Bedamini Male Initiation.” Social Analysis: The International Journal of Social and Cultural Practice, no. 10, Berghahn Books, 1982, pp. 42–62, http://www.jstor.org/stable/23159574.

Learn more:
Map of Bedamuni Tribes’ customary land… – Researchgate.net
OLAC resources in and about the Beami language – language-archives.org
Recordings of Bedamini language – paradisec.org.au

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Bosavi (Kaluli)


The Kaluli are an Indigenous tribe in Papua New Guinea. The origin of the name with the addition of the suffix -li the word Kaluli directly translates to “real people of Bosavi.” The Kaluli has a population of 2,000 to 12,000 people that reside in the tropical rainforest in the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, on the Great Papuan Plateau near Mt. Bosavi. They live in 20 longhouse communities, which are more than land, but the clan’s identity. “It is used much like a name in friendly socializing; in war, these place names serve other purposes. Enemies on the attack were on unfamiliar turf, with no knowledge, of which ridges and trails might be well-suited for a defender to hide behind in ambush.” Longhouses are used to demonstrate their connection to their land, which is a big part of their culture.

The first group of Europeans traveled to Papua New Guinea in 1934, bringing trade goods such as knives, mirrors, beads, and pearl shells. During World War II European contact was broken until the 1950s. Between 1950 and 1964 contact was infrequent. During the period of broken connection, a form of measles and influenza struck the area the Kaluli lived, and a lack of natural resistances and access to European technologies led to decreases in the Kaluli population. An ongoing threat regardless of public health programs, infant mortality and influenza epidemics sweeps the lowlands.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Kaluli creation myth – Wikipedia
Kaluli – UCLA Social Sciences

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Chambri


Chambri are an ethnic group in the Chambri Lakes region in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea. The social structures of Chambri society have often been a subject in the study of gender roles. The Chambri language is spoken by them. This community is located near Chambri Lake in Papua New Guinea, in the middle region of the Sepik River. The Chambri consist of three villages: Indingai, Wombun, and Kilimbit. Together, these communities contain about 1,000 people. When the Chambri first came together, though isolated, they located communities nearby that made it possible for cultural interaction and growth.

Learn more:
Papua New Guinea: Sex and Temperament (Margaret Mead: Human Nature and the Power of Culture) – Library of Congress
Chambri – Encyclopedia.com

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FILMS


Dani (Ndani)


The Dani people, also spelled Ndani, and sometimes conflated with the Lani group to the west, are a people from the central highlands of western New Guinea (the Indonesian province of Papua). They are one of the most populous tribes in the highlands, of which they are found spread through the region. The Dani are one of the best-known ethnic groups in Papua, due to the relatively numerous tourists who visit the Baliem Valley area where they predominate. “Ndani” is the name given to the Baliem Valley people by the Moni people, and, while they do not call themselves Dani, they have been known as such since the 1926 Smithsonian Institution-Dutch Colonial Government expedition to New Guinea under Matthew Stirling who visited the Moni.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Images of Dani people – Getty Images 
New Guineas Indigenous tribes are alive and well (just don’t call them ancient) – theconversation.com

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Enga


Traditional Engan culture practiced strict segregation of sexes. During initiation young men between the ages of 16 and 19 were purified in seclusion at a ceremony called the “sangai,” in which their eyes were ritually washed with water, to remove any taint resulting from contact with females, and where they prepared traditional finery, the most notable item being a wig made out of their own hair. This distinctive round wig topped with sicklebird feathers is, more than any other item, an icon or symbol of Engan culture today.

Like many other highland Papua New Guineans living west of the Daulo Pass (between Chimbu Province and Eastern Highlands Province), the traditional Engan settlement style is that of scattered homesteads dispersed throughout the landscape. Historically sweet potato was the staple food, sometimes supplemented by pork. The modern diet places an increasing emphasis on store bought rice and tinned fish and meat. Pigs remain a culturally valued item with elaborate systems of pig exchange also known as “tee” that mark social life in the province. The Raiapu practice extensive agriculture in their highland region. Sweet potatoes are the major crop, forming two-thirds of the Raiapu diet. They also raise pigs.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Enga Cultural Show – papuanewguinea.travel
Enga language – Wikipedia

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Ganiga


Excerpt from a Smithsonian Magazine article about the “Highland Trilogy” legacy:

“Long after missionaries and Europeans settled on the coast of New Guinea in the 19th century, the mountainous interior remained unexplored. As recently as the 1920s, outsiders believed the mountains, which run the length of the island from east to west, were too steep and rugged for anyone to live there. But when gold was discovered 40 miles inland, prospectors went north across the Coral Sea to seek their fortunes. Among them were three brothers from Queensland, Australia: Michael, James and Daniel Leahy, the children of Irish immigrants, who in the early 1930s hiked to the top of the ridges with a group of native porters and gun bois (or armed guards) from the coast.

In the highlands the Leahys found wide, fertile valleys, groomed with garden plots that were later estimated to feed a million inhabitants sorted into hundreds of tribes and clans. The highlanders lived in huts of timber and kunai grass, used stone tools and fought with wooden spears and arrows. Just as white settlers had been unaware of their existence, the highlanders had no idea that anyone lived beyond the mountains.”

Learn more:
Filming a Tribe and Surviving a War – New York Times

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Gogodala


The Gogodala are a tribe of approximately 25,000, located in 33 villages in Papua New Guinea. Their territory extends from the Aramia River to the lower Fly River, and it is the most populous Local-Level Government area in the province. Their territory is divided into West, East and Fly areas. The Gogodala occupy mostly the flat terrain and the floodplain areas. Their origin story says that the Gogodala ancestors traveled to this area in large canoes. The Gogodala trace their lineage to the original members of clans who settled in the area at the time. They also trace their lineage to the canoes which their ancestors used to travel there.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Gogodala – Encyclopedia.com
Gogodala language – Wikipedia

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FILMS


Iatmul (Kandagai Village)


The total Iatmul population is about 10,000 people. The homeland of the Iatmul is along the middle course of the Sepik River in the country of Papua New Guinea. The Sepik is a river that changes with the seasons. During the rainy season that lasts for around five months, the river may rise dramatically and flood the surrounding lowlands. Iatmul villages become a cluster of houses perched on stilts situated within a body of muddy water. All movement has to be done by canoe during this time.

The Iatmul language is classified by linguists as a Papuan, or non-Austronesian, language that belongs to the Ndu language family. The Papuan languages are spoken throughout the island of New Guinea and on a few smaller neighboring islands in Indonesia. There is very little information on the Iatmul language. The Iatmul refer to their language by the word nyara . The language has two dialects. Iatmul children and many adults are also fluent in Tok Pisin (an English-based pidgin language), one of the national languages of Papua New Guinea.

Source:
Everyculture.com

Read more:
Iatmul – Encyclopedia.com
Iatmul – storymaps.arcgis.com

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Kawelka


The Kawelka people are an Indigenous tribe who live in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. The Kawelka are largely based in the immediate area surrounding the Wahgi Valley, located in the New Guinea Highlands.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Ten thousand years of cultivation… – Australian National University
Case study on Anthropology: Moka Exchange – Medium.com 

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Lak


Lak is the name of a coastal Papua New Guinea population and encompasses two groups that are no longer distinct: inland dwellers who relocated to the coast at the time of Western contact (c. 1900) and an original coastal-dwelling group. The name has been adopted by the New Ireland provincial government and designates an electorate composed almost exclusively of Lak speakers.

Source:
Encyclopedia.com

Learn more:
Siar-Lak Language – Wikipedia 

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Mandak


Mandak is a linguistic-cultural designation for people living in central New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. “Mandak” means “boy” or “male” and is used by New Irelanders to refer to those speaking the various dialects of Mandak. Further sociocultural distinctions are made by reference to particular Mandak villages.

Source:
Encyclopedia.com

Learn more:
History and Cultural Relations – Mandak 

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Sepik


The Sepik or Sepik River languages are a family of some 50 Papuan languages spoken in the Sepik river basin of northern Papua New Guinea, proposed by Donald Laycock in 1965 in a somewhat more limited form than presented here. They tend to have simple phonologies, with few consonants or vowels and usually no tones.

The best known Sepik language is Iatmül. The most populous are Iatmül’s fellow Ndu languages Abelam and Boiken, with about 35,000 speakers each. As the Sepik peoples are identified by their language group, their nonclemature follows that of their language and thus are known by that name. Hence, the name Sepik for some of the groups of the area.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Sepik Tribes – anywayinaway.com
Sepik – Wenner-Gren Foundation

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Trobriander


The people of the Trobriand Islands are mostly subsistence horticulturalists who live in traditional settlements. The social structure is based on matrilineal clans that control land and resources. People participate in the regional circuit of exchange of shells called kula, sailing to visit trade partners on seagoing canoes. In the late twentieth century, anti-colonial and cultural autonomy movements gained followers from the Trobriand societies. When inter-group warfare was forbidden by colonial rulers, the islanders developed a unique, aggressive form of cricket.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Trobriander – New World Encyclopedia 

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FILMS


Umeda


Umeda is an Indigenous village in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea. The people of the village are known by the village name, Umeda. There is roughly 500 people of this culture and dialect.

Source:
der.org

Learn more:
Sowanda language – Wikipedia 

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