3 Tribes in West Papua: Aboriginal Inhabitants of the Heaven on Earth

Famous for its captivating nature, West Papua or Papua is known as heaven on earth. Not only Indonesians themselves but many foreign tourists are also interested to visit Papua to unwind. Little do we know there are hundreds of West Papuan tribes and each of the tribes has its interesting traditions that we will unfold in this article.

Intriguing Facts about 3 West Papuan Tribes You Need To Know.

1. Biak Tribe

Populating the Biak Nimfor regency, the Biak tribe is popular for being the great Sea Explorer. It started from the scarcity of livestock and produce from their land that happened way back before today. Drought made the Biak tribe need to find food sources from other land and so they sailed from Cendrawasih Bay to Raja Ampat Island.

Known for their strength and resilience, the Biak tribe dominates the aspects of politics and trade. The Biak tribe still conducts Wor tradition, a traditional ceremony. Wor tradition is a religious tradition that has cultural values and serves as how they are connected with God, their family, and nature.

Another tradition is Yakyaker, which is a dowry offering ceremony in West Papua that should be done when someone is getting married. Biak tribe usually offers their livestock, quarries, produce, antique plates, and other goods during Yakyaker ceremonial tradition. The amount of the dowry depends on the status of the bride.

Pokem or otong or well known as Papua’s wheat is the traditional food of Biak. The plant is originated and cultivated by the tribe and become their staple food since then. In Padwa village we can find an ancient cemetery on the cliff on the beach. We can see the skeletons and caskets on the cliff as it was the ancient burial system of the tribe.

2. Hatam Tribe

Another one of the West Papuan tribes is Hatam Tribe. Hatam tribe is a local ethnic group that inhabits the Arfak Mountains in the Warmare subdistrict, Manokwari regency. Categorized in one great ethical group, Arfak, the Hatam tribe is classified into three ethical groups: Moile, Tinam, and Urwam.

Hatam tribe considers their land and forest as sacred since the forest has religious meaning for them, untouched, and portrays time dimensions of the past, present, and future. Within the land and the forest of West Papua contains the elements of life, for instance, their social life, culture, religion, economy, and politics.

Hatam tribes believe that the land unites the connection from one generation to another generation of the Hatam tribe. People of the Hatam tribe are living from their natural resources. They rely on the forest and paddy fields that they managed. They use their natural resource products for substantial economic activity.

In harvest season; men will scythe the field, cut down big trees and branches then clean them up, and collect dry leaves to be made into fertilizer for the field for the next planting of produce.  Besides, the women of the Hatam tribe will do the farming, burn the dry leaves collected by the men, grow and conserve the produces, and harvest them.

The farming system of the Hatam tribe seems to be traditional but as time passes, with the interaction of national transmigrants with the locals, the farming system has developed to be more modern.

One of the infamous traditions in West Papua that are still applied in this tribe is the land ownership tradition. In the past, Hatam people used to claim ownerless land as theirs. Those regions will be marked with symbols and borderlines. The lands are maintained by the men of the Hatam tribe and later will be inherited by the sons of the family.

3. Ayamaru (Meibrat) Tribe

Ayamaru tribe is also one of the West Papuan tribes that reside in the western and southern part of the Ayamaru Lakes. The Ayamaru tribe people use the Meibrat language as their mother language. On that account, the Ayamaru tribe is also known as the Meibrat tribe. The word “Mei” means language whereas, “Brat” means people.

During sacred events, the Ayamaru tribe presents a distinctive traditional dance called Srar or Bosuah. People are dancing at a fast tempo as they are holding hands. Another traditional dance is called Siwuon, which has a slower tempo than Srar. The last one is Minggauw, a rhymed song sung by a boy or a girl for each other to express admiration.

Same with other tribes in Papua, the Ayamaru people of West Papua live from farming, fishing, and hunting wild animals found near lake Ayamaru. People of the Ayamaru tribe hunt and sell the magnificent cenderawasih birds in exchange for fabrics that another tribe or people bring.

Many tribes exist in different parts of Papua. This proves that not only there are many exquisite nature destinations, Papua is also rich in cultures and natural resources. The West Papuan tribes have a strong bond of kinship means they put their family first and will never let their family behind