A Journey through West Papua Indigenous Communities

West Papua

West Papua is one of the provinces with several indigenous communities. Until now, these indigenous tribes are still descended and even become communities that preserve their native language and culture.

Mansim Tribe

The Mansim tribe is indigenous and inhabits most of the Manokwari District. This tribe has its language, the Mansim language.

The exact population of the Mansim tribe is unknown. However, in the 1970s, there were around 1,000 Mansim language speakers.

Several people speak the Mansim Borai language in Anday and Mupi Villages, South Manokwari District, Manokwari Regency, West Papua Province.

Initially, the speakers of this language lived in Maruti Village, in the Gunung Kapur area.

In 1976, Maruti Village was hit by a flood. They moved and scattered to Andai, Arfai, and Muni.

After being traced to the refugee area, it was discovered that this language is one of the endangered languages in Papua because only four speakers are left.

Meiyakh and Moile Tribe

The Meiyakh tribe is one of the indigenous tribes of West Papua who also inhabit the area in Manokwari City.

Most Meiyakh people live in two sub-districts in Manokwari, namely Manokwari Sub-district and Merdei Sub-district.

Judging from their belief system, most Meiyakh people embrace Protestant Christianity.

They are also very respectful of their religious leaders. Most of the Meiyakh tribe’s livelihood is farming and cultivating various plants.

Besides Meiyakh, other tribes are indigenous community namely the Moile.

The Moire tribe lives in the Mokwan areas, especially around the Prafi River. This tribe is a sub-tribe of the Arfak tribe.

Some local oral sources reveal that the Moile and Meyah tribes originated from two single men named Ndin and Ndifan, who were natives of the Anggi area,

Which is also the area where the Sougb tribe lives. Ndin then married a woman from the coastal area named Wonggor.

Wamesa Tribe

The Wamesa tribe is also an indigenous tribe of West Papua Province that also inhabits the area in Bintuni Bay Regency.

The exact location of their settlements is around the streams of the Wasian River in Bintuni District, Bintuni Bay Regency.

They also have their language in communication, namely the Wamesa language, a non-Austronesian language family.

Most of the Wamesa people’s source of livelihood is by gathering sago. Some live from fishing.

Maybrat Tribe

The Maybrat tribe is also one of the indigenous tribes of West Papua Province that inhabits the Maybrat Regency area.

The exact location of the Maybrat people’s settlements is in Ayamaru, Teminabuan, Aitinyo, and Aifat in Sorong City.

The Maybrat tribe believes the dead will incarnate animals, such as blackbirds or bats, which inhabit caves, large trees, old wells, etc.

Most Maybrat people work as farmers who cultivate various types of plants, such as yams, bananas, and so on.

Arfak Tribe

The Arfak tribe lives in an area with potential as a tourist spot because the Arfak Mountains Regency has Anggi lake.

The people who live in the Arfak mountains are generally called the Arfak tribe.

Still, specifically, they consist of four tribes that are almost the same culture. The four tribes are the Hattam tribe, the Meyakh tribe, the Sough tribe, and the Moile tribe.

The tribes use different languages, so they cannot communicate with each other in their language.

Biak Tribe

The naming of Biak itself began during the Dutch administration in the 17th century. The Dutch gave the name of the Biak-Numfor islands Schouten Eilanden.

Some call it Numfor, Mafor, Wiak, or Vyak. The w phoneme then changes to b so that the word Biak appears.

In contrast, the word Biak-Numfor, with a horizontal line connecting the two words, is used in West Papua officially to name the area and the people who inhabit the islands located north of Cenderawasih Bay.