Quick Learning for Tourists: A Brief History of The Arfak Tribe

History of The Arfak Tribe

History of The Arfak Tribe

The history of the Arfak tribe is essential to learn if you want to visit Papua, especially the West region. But first, do you know this tribe? If you are interested in learning about Arfak, it is better to take advantage of the insightful information in this article! 

Well, Arfak is a tribe that occupies several regions in Papua. The community is widespread and inhabits the most located areas in the bird’s head of the island. Along with the sub-tribes of the Arfak tribe, they live in Wondama Regency, Bintuni Regency, South Manokwari Regency, Manokwari Regency, Tambrauw Regency, and Arfak Mountains. 

The History of The Arfak Tribe

There is a record of people of Arfak in the 18th century. Since then, the term ‘Arfak people have been used for the community living in the mountains. The term came from the coastal area. However, the Arfak people preferred to call themselves the Meyah, Hattam, Sough, etc.

Right now, the Arfak people term is widely used by the members of the tribe. The name was inspired by a mountain’s name within the area, Mount Arfak. Meanwhile, the tribe members call the mountain with the name of Indon or Indonga. The name has a literal meaning of big mountain.

Arfak people believe in myths, fairy tales, or folklore passed down from the previous generations. In some of the stories, there are tales about the origins and the history of the Arfak tribe

For example, the Arfak people who live in Manokwari Regency believe in a Creation God, Ajemoa. This God created the first ancestor of the Arfak people called Siba. Siba had three children. They were Iba, Aiba, and Towansiba. Then, these four people made several other tribes live through this day. 

Culture of the Arfak Tribe

Culture has been an essential element of life for any human civilization. This also applies to the Arfak tribe. They have several distinctive cultures compared to other tribes on the island of Papua. 

  • Language

Language is always present in every group of people living within an area. This means of communication is crucial for people to exchange ideas, deliver messages, and express emotions. The Arfak people have several languages spoken by the members, such as Hattam, Sough, Meyah, Hattam-Moiley, and Sough-Bohon languages. 

  • Livelihood

The Arfak people depend on nomadic gardening. After clearing a plot of land, they plant banana trees and taro seeds. The people also grow cassava, petatas, papaya, vegetables, sugarcane, and other crops to procure ample food

In addition, the members of the tribe also hunt and gather things from the forest. They use bows and arrows to hunt small and big animals, including moles, tree cuscus, wild boars, etc. For gathering, the people take edible leaves and vegetables like fern and genemon.

  • Knowledge

The Arfak people cherish nature. They have a great appreciation for the natural environment, for it helps them in their livelihood. They observe nature and interpret the happenings around the place. 

For instance, the Arfak people use the moon’s position to know whether it is time for the rainy or dry season. Then, they use sticks to count the previous months. 

  • Beliefs

The tribe’s members hold a particular belief about plants. They believe some plants have exceptional power, especially the Mumweb (Obat Suanggi). This plant has the ability to poison someone and even the ability to revive the dead. The persons who use this plant are called Suanggi or Surer in the Sough language.

History Strengthen Arfak’s Cultures

The history of the Arfak tribe speaks of the past narrative of the people’s beliefs and systems in society. It consists of myths about human creation and the invention of cultures. To this day, the Arfak people still maintain their cultures and protect nature.