Although West Papua and Papua New Guinea are two different countries, indigenous people living in these places share similar physical appearances. Papua and West Papua, part of the Republic of Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, an independent country since 1975, have many ethnic groups. The people here are Melanesians. To learn what are the ethnic groups in West Papua and Papua New Guinea, read on.
Ethnic Groups in West Papua
West Papua province has 24 ethnic groups with their different languages. Some of these groups spread in several districts. Here are some famous ethnic groups:
Arfak ethnic group lives in Arfak Mountains, 2,950 meters above sea level. The native tribes here are very capable of creating wooden arts and are expert hunters. They also know a lot about traditional medication and herbal plants that are very difficult to find in Arfak Mountains.
Biak tribe is an ethnic group living in the district of Biak and Numfor. They are known as great ocean explorers. One of the most popular traditions from Biak, which is still preserved up until now, is delivering the dowry tradition or Ararem.
Asmat ethnic groups are famous for their unique wood carvings. They’re also well-known for their traditional house called Jew house. In the Jew house, many Asmat weapons, such as spears, arrows for hunting, and noken, are kept. Not just anyone is allowed to touch Noken. It is believed can heal many diseases.
The Dani lives in Baliem valley. Dani tribe was first found hundred years ago. The male from this ethnic group is famous for their koteka. One of the unique traditions of Dani is they love to take a bath in the afternoon when the sun is high. It is because the air temperature in the morning is freezing.
Besides those four, there are many other ethnic groups in West Papua. They are Doreri, Kuri, Simuri, Irarutu, Sebyar, Moscona, Mairasi, Kambouw, Onim, Sekar, Moi, Jakui, Batanta, Tehit, Arguni, Hattam, Awiu, Demta, etc.
Ethnic Groups in Papua New Guinea
Just like in West Papua, Papua New Guinea also has hundreds of ethnic groups. Some of the most famous indigenous tribes are:
Trobriander tribe lives in Trobriander Islands, in the biggest island called Kiriwina Island. One of the most shocking things about the Trobriander tribe is they already know about sex ever since they are six years old. The Trobriander are not allowed to marry people from other ethnic groups.
Etoro or Edolo
Etoro or Edolo tribe is the next ethnic group in Papua New Guinea. Their territory includes the southern slopes of Mount Sisa, the southern tip of Papua New Guinea’s central mountains near the Papuan highlands. This tribe is known to anthropologists for its homosexual rituals. The Etoro believe that young males must swallow the sperm of their elders every day from the age of 12 to 17 to attain adult male status.
Huli tribe lives in the highlands of the southern part of Papua New Guinea, which includes several areas such as the Tari, Koroba, Margaraima, and Komo regions of Papua New Guinea. The Huli has been living in the highlands for more than a thousand years. Most of the Huli use Huli and Tok Pisin languages. The men and women traditionally live separately. Boys will stay with their mothers until puberty—meanwhile, the men who haven’t married life in the same house as a group.
Besides those three, many other tribes in Papua New Guinea have different languages; Abelam, Angu, Baining, Enga, Etoro, Fore, Gadsup, Haroli, Kaluli, Mian Kwoma, etc.
We hope you find the information about ethnic groups in West Papua and Papua New Guinea useful. Although they live in the same countries, each of those tribes has different unique traditions that can be their attractions.