Dani tribes’ lives are isolated and difficult to reach in the Baliem Valley area. Their way of life relates to ancient humans, who are still traditional. It is one of the attractions of West Papua internationally. However, it is unavoidable that modernization has made Dani experience changes. Here are some developments that can be seen from this tribe.
Dani Tribe Development
1. The Coming of Knowledge
In 1938, the American biologist Richard Archbold conducted a scientific survey of the Baliem valley. At first, the group thought the Baliem plateau was empty, but they saw rows of plowed fields – agriculture, a sign of life. Richard Archbold landed in the Baliem Valley and met with previously unknown indigenous tribes to research the area.
The transmigration scheme planned by the government made the entry of Javanese into Irian. This idea aims to integrate people to live side by side with Papuan. It is estimated that more than 1,000,000 Javanese now live in West Papua because of the transmigration. With this, the Indonesian language also entered the Dani, although it is still thick with the local dialect of the Dani tribe.
The aspect that has changed the Dani tribe is tourism. The unique culture and beauty of the Baliem Valley slowly attract tourists to come to Papua. The impacts vary; Cultural interactions with foreigners affect Dani culture. However, the unique Dani culture provides economic benefits for the local community.
Papua is famous for its abundant natural wealth, including mining. Since the 1970s, gold mining has taken place in the depths of Papua (the largest of its kind in the world). The operation has had a significant effect on migrants to West Papua. It also brought in thousands of workers who marginalized the Dani community from isolation.
As is well known, the Dani tribe lives in the highlands with steep terrain. The track and geographical area have an impact on the way they live. As a result, they still rely on natural products and hunting as a way of survival. In fact, they still hold tightly to their culture. However, this is constantly changing due to the many migrants arriving in Papua.
When the city of Wamena was built slowly, it automatically changed various aspects of the life of the Dani Tribe. Of course, the town brought structure, economy, and modern society to Dani’s tribe’s place of residence. Here the Dani will sell their crafts and receive money in exchange. Even though Papua has the highest price in Indonesia, the Dani is still poor.
6. The Coming of Religion
The arrival of religion is also one of the aspects that changed the way of life of the Dani tribe. As accessibility to the valley increased, missionaries spread among the Dani tribe. Christian missions start to convert the Dani tribes to religion. The result is a radical change from their old ways of abandoning amulets and magicians in West Papua.
Before dealing with people from outside the Baliem valley, the Dani relied on agriculture, hunting, and gathering essential ingredients from natural materials. The problematic nature of the physical environment had a significant effect on the rate of change, keeping them in and out of the Baliem Valley to maintain their tribal way for so long.