Theme pages

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

The disappearance of Michael Rockefeller

On November 18, 1961 the wooden catamaran of recently graduated American student Michael Clark Rockefeller capsized on a journey between the coastal villages of Agats and Atsj in south New Guinea due to huge waves on the Arafura Sea. Michael took the decision to swim ashore in order to fetch help. However, in Papua the swampy shore line is infested with alligators. 

Pre-historic drawings

Little is known about prehistoric times in former Dutch New Guinea. Because of the inhospitablerotsbeschildering landscape and fast growing vegetation in the rainforests, only a  few traces of the past remain. The semi-nomadic lifestyle of the indigenous people does not leave much evidence to go on either. The first inhabitants of New Guinea  are thought to have migrated to this island via South-east Asia around 50.000 years ago. It is possible to form an impression  of the timeframe from the beginning of the megalithic period, 30.000 to 40.000 BC.

Collaborators sent to New Guinea after World War II

At the beginning of WWII, Queen Wilhelmina in London and the illegal news paper ‘Het Parool’ argued that all NSB members ( Nationalistic Socialist Bond)  should be deported to Borneo, Suriname or New Guinea.   Once in the colonies, these collaborators were to be sentenced to forced labour. This perception changed towards the end of the war.  On 29 January 1944, Minister Jaap Burger from Internal Affairs called for the NSB members to be detained pending an official  trial.

Love story of missionary in the tropics

On Valentine’s Day 14 February 2008, the regular feature ’Andere Tijden’ , a history-based program on Dutch television, broadcasted a poignant story about the forbidden love between a Dutch missionary and a young Papuan woman living in former Dutch New Guinea. Their relationship became a huge scandal and the couple fled into the jungle to escape the fury of the local bishop. When they  married,

The First Dutch Expedition

Portret van een groep Papua-vrouwen en kinderen (1903)The North New Guinea Expedition in 1903 was the first official Dutch expedition into New Guinea and its goal was to explore the North Coast of the Dutch part of the island and explore whether exploitable coal beds were present. The exploration concentrated on the Geelvink Bay and Humboldt Bay areas, and also included Lake Sentani. The leader of the expedition was the German Geologist Arthur Wichmann, founder of Earth Sciences at the University of Utrecht.

The Papua Volunteers Corps

The Papuan Volunteers Corps was set up in February 1961 to ensure Papuan involvement in protecting the interests of former Dutch new Guinea.  It was primarily established for political reasons as part of the Ten Year Plan in 1960 by Cabinet De Quay. Military motives were of secondary interest.  The Dutch Government wanted to accelerate the development of the colony in preparation for New Guinea’s independence and as such to keep it from being taken over by the Indonesians. The Papuan Volunteers

Life up in a Korowai tree house

de korowai wonen in de luchtThe Korowai people live in the inaccessible jungle in the southeast of the Indonesian province of Papua, about 150 kilometres  inland from the Arafura Sea. They are hunter-gatherers in a small society of traditional family ties  who need to share all they have in order to survive. Like the Kombai, the Korowai are known for being great architects of tree houses high up in the tree. Until about 1975  the Korowai had hardly any contact with the outside world.

Local Papua languages disappear

Zou dit meisje uit Enggros haar lokale taal nog leren?The local languages in Papua are under threat. This is the disturbing message of the United Nations Organisation UNESCO. The United Nations Cultural Heritage Fund   reported that 2498 languages of the World’s existing 6900 languages are in danger of disappearing. This fact is clear from the third edition of the digital ‘Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing’ presented on 19 February 2009.

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.