Theme pages

The themepages offer insight into different aspects of life of the indegenous peoples of West Papua.

Franciscans in Papua for 70 years

missie MeraukeIn 1937 the first missionaries of the Order of Franciscan Friars Minor arrived in New Guinea. They started work in the region that fell under the responsibility of the Sacred Heart, MSC ( Missionarii Sacratissimi Cordis, Netherlands). Their centre was in Merauke along the south coast. However, the missionaries also started work in the Bird’s Head Area along the north coast. Before World War II, the missionaries went into areas that had already been visited on previous occasions, such as Steenkool, Sorong. Manokwari and Jayapura, as well as other areas further along the coast.

Following veteran footsteps: a brief history

Zwaaiende veteraan tijdens defilé 2008

Veterans increasingly start up humanitarian initiatives in countries where they were deployed. This was shown in research commissioned by the  National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NCDO) and the Veteran Institute in the Netherlands. Ever since their deployment these veterans have felt concerned about the fate of the Papuans in former Dutch New Guinea. They tend to feel guilty because, from their point of view, the Papuans were betrayed by the Dutch Government.

Similarities and differences among Mountain Papuans

hurkende Dani-manA comparison between  lifestyle of Papuans living in mountain areas has shown that there are many similarities. One such similarity is that they lived in groups consisting of patrilineal clans. Their leaders were men who needed to prove themselves time and again. Fights and wars between groups of Mountain Papuans were frequent. These usually took place between people who belonged to the same ethnic group. Differences on the other hand, occurred in performing rituals and establishing trade contacts. 

Experiment with Nieuw-Guinea regional councils

Papua's kijken wat er te kiezen valtOn 5 April 1961 the New Guinea Council (Nieuw-Guinea Raad) was set up. It was an important moment during a period (1959-1962) in which a more democratic mode of administration started to develop within the Dutch colony. Besides the New Guinea Council, regional councils were also elected, which acted as "subdivisions". These regional councils formed a link between the village councils and the New Guinea Council.

Hollandia Centenary (Jayapura) in 2010

On 7 March 2010 it is a 100 years since the Dutch flag is hoisted up by Captainbivak op strand Humboldtbaai 1910 F.J.P. Sachse on the north coast of New Guinea.  Sache is the commander of the Northern Detachment, one of three military exploration detachments that set out to explore New Guinea in the early part of the 20th century.  The Northern Detachment consists of Captain Sache and three other officers, 80 Indonesian soldiers, 60 porters as well as labourers, servants, women and children (270 people in total). Five months earlier, they  all boarded the carrier ‘Van Den Bosch’. Shortly after landing, they build a base camp along the beach of Humboldt Bay.

Doctors on the south coast in the Fifties

Around 1920 Healthcare in New Guinea started to develop. The growing number of doctors had more and more contact with Papuans and conducted an increasing number of examinations among the population. These were especially aimed at preventing common diseases such as malaria, yaws and tuberculosis.

Pigs and Pig Ceremonies in New Guinea

Pigs play a very important role  among the people of Papua (former Dutch New Guinea), and especially so among those living in the Central Highlands. Apart from  pigs and deer, originally brought in by the Europeans, there are not many mammals on this island. The wild pigs in Papua are similar to those in Dutch national park, but they are skinnier.

Eyewitness Report Headhunting

In 1939 the Dutch priest Jan Verscheuren witnessed a headhunting incident in kekaju village by the war-like tribe of the JEI people. He made notes which were then incorporated by Dr. Jan H.M.C. Boelaars in his book 'Nieuw Guinea uw mensen zijn wonderbaar' (New Guinea your people are amazing). Verscheuren described the killing and the rituals in great detail.

Chewing Pinang a popular past time in Papua

Chewing  Betel nut is a popular past time in Papua for both young and old. In Jayapura one can seeTanden worden rood door pinang kauwen plenty of people with bright red teeth as well as the resulting  red coloured streaks of spit along the ground. In Bahasa Indonesia it is known as “Makan Pinang”. The chewing of the Areca Palm nut is a 2500-year-old tradition in Malaysia and in the rest of South East Asia.