The Korowai tribe is indigenous Papuan people who still live in the interior. In fact, this tribe had no recorded contact with the outside world until the 1970s. They believe that no one other than themselves lives in this world. It is due to the way they lived in the isolated territory. Therefore, here’s what you should know about the indigenous people of West Papua.
History of the Korowai Tribe
The Korowai are an inland tribe discovered about 35 years ago in remote parts of Papua. The population is quite fantastic because it reaches around 3000 people. This isolated tribe has a unique way of life, where they live in a treehouse called Rumah Tinggi. Some houses can reach a height of up to 50 meters above the ground.
Meanwhile, the way of dressing the Korowai Tribe still applies to their own native culture, which does not use koteka. They live in remote forest areas that are still isolated. To make ends meet, they rely on skills as hunters. All forest products and natural surroundings are the sources of their daily life.
According to historical records, until around 1975, Korowai had almost no contact with people outside the forest. In other words, living in a government-made village is a new phenomenon among the Korowai tribe. Therefore, this tribe in West Papua is still an untouched tribe in modern times.
In terms of housing, they built a house divided into two rooms. The lighting source in their homes relies on fireplaces in each room. Men and women live separately and have a unique way of life. In addition, they use traditional methods to cure illness and treat certain diseases when they are alive.
The Korowai People’s Way of Life
1. Living in a 50-meter-tall treehouse
One of the most remarkable of the Korowai tribe is their unique habitat. They have extraordinary engineering towards wooden house designs. Although isolated and primitive, the ability to build a treehouse with a height of 50 meters is to be proud of. The stilt houses have a unique design in order to protect members from rival villages.
Meanwhile, the basic structure is only accessible by using a wooden ladder on the stilts. In addition, the center pole has a sturdy material derived from the banyan tree. They use a typical sago palm bark in West Papua for wall and floor designs. Plus, the roof of the house is made of sago leaves arranged in such a way as to avoid heat and rain.
Cannibalism has indeed been a common practice in the past, and until recently, the Korowai Tribe was one of the tribes that still practiced it. It became the last tribe in the world to be known as cannibals because they believed in evil spirits. People will conform to their other person who doesn’t think they need to be killed and eaten.
This practice is still valid today, even though times are increasingly modern. Even some tribal members made this statement. However, others believe that this claim is an excellent story to tell the hopes of foreigners for isolated tribes in Papua. However, the tribe still has a long history of cannibalism.
3. Not Realizing There’s Someone Else
The existence of this tribe was only known to the outside world after 1974 because Western scientists made an expedition to the area. However, the limitations of external access make the knowledge of the Korowai people still believe that outsiders in West Papua carry demons and evil spirits. Some of them may still not realize that there are many races and ethnicities in their lives.
4. Believe in Witchcraft and Witchcraft
Magic is one of the things that is a significant part of the belief system of the Korowai tribe. Meanwhile, Christian missionaries have slowly succeeded in converting some Korowai to Christianity. Some of the indigenous people of the Korowai tribe are still reluctant to let go of their traditional spiritual views with the outside world. They believe that demons are real and dangerous.
This understanding led the tribe to think that any fatal disease was more likely to be blamed on evil spirits. They do not believe in infectious diseases that reach the community because of vaccination. Korowai have considered morale since the time of their ancestors from generation to generation. In addition, they also believe in the form of reincarnation with rituals, magic, and traditions.
5. Bows and arrows as weapons
Hunting is a way of life of the primitive Korowai tribe in West Papua. They use bows and arrows as their primary means of survival. Not only to hunt animals but also to hunt down other people or unwanted strangers. The bow has a unique design with sharp spines to attack its enemies. It will be a defense to build peace with other communities.
In conclusion, the Korowai people still have primitive habits like eating human flesh or cannibals. However, it had greatly diminished since they had started getting to know outsiders. They also eat the meat of animals usually hunted in the forest. In addition, their way of life is unique because they live in houses that reach 140 feet.