Papua has an abundance of ethnic and cultural diversity. One of the most iconic in West Papua is the Yali tribe’s economic status. Several small isolated mountain villages suggest that a man’s wealth is measured by the number of pigs he owns. In fact, it is also associated with social and privilege among the local tribe. Here’s the information.
Characteristics of the Yali Population
The status and wealth of economically successful individuals will affect the human population. The existence of such a relationship, at least for men in indigenous peoples, traditional society becomes a thick culture. It also applies to the traditional Yali tribe. This tribe inhabits the mountainous terrain east of the Baliem valley known as the Yalimo. This area has a tropical climate.
The Yali tribe is one of the many indigenous ethnic groups in Papua that have difficult accessibility. Papua’s mountainous terrain has not been fully explored, and several small mountains are still isolated, such as Pui, Hiklahin, Mogobie, Penyam Ohomtongo, Sali, Fik-Fak, and the village of Piliam. It was a village that tourists rarely visited in the last five years for small towns.
Despite religion in this area, the Yali tribe still maintains a traditional lifestyle, including dressing and meeting daily needs in West Papua. Yali village also has a conventional concept of trade but no further access. As for living quarters, Yali Village consists of a big man’s house (yowa), and a group of small family huts (homea).
Economy in Yali
The subsistence of Yali village is centered on horticulture and practicing shifting cultivation. In this case, the Yali tribe relies on sweet potatoes and taro as their daily staple food. They also harvest sweet potatoes, bananas, pandanus, sugar cane, and various leafy vegetables. Some crops, such as bananas, sugarcane, coffee plants, and cacao, are kept by men.
Meanwhile, women help select commercial crops held in the fields. Men play a role in clearing forests and bushes. Then, building houses and fences while cultivating is the main task of women. Also, women are on duty to cook every day. In comparison, men slaughter pigs for party purposes, etc.
Men sometimes hunt animals in the forest, such as birds, bats, and arboreal or pigeon mammals. They also hunt kangaroos and giant rats from time to time in West Papua. The only pets that can be found everywhere are pigs and dogs. In this case, children are also involved in domestic life daily for their necessities.
However, the children did not marry before they were in their mid-20s. Most girls have their first menarche relatively late between the ages of seventeen and nineteen. After marriage, girls think of catching up with all the gardens and households. It includes raising children, caring for the family, and preparing meals.
Therefore, trade-in Yalimo is limited to a few essential goods sectors. It also didn’t involve much loot to travel, only small-scale trade. Occasionally, some Yali cross Gunung Elite to Wamena in selling some string bags and arrows at the market. They also sell goods that are not available in the valley due to deforestation.
Yali uses the money to buy goods and necessities. However, they often use the old method of bartering in trading. In this case, salt or piglets become a precious commodity. These two things are often traded in exchange for goods sold by Yali. Currently, the Yali tribe in West Papua also receives money to buy equipment and food at Warung Wamena.
Pig Ownership Relationship with Economic Status
Pigs are the main commodity of the Yali for trade. As a result, pigs are thought to have significantly influenced wealth and prestige in Yali culture. It is because the Yali tribe adopted it as their staple meat product. In addition, Pigs in the Yali tribe are used to buy valuable goods for wives and acquire land rights.
Apart from being a source of nutrition and an object of trade, pigs are also used in social life. Almost all social relationships must use pig exchange validation. Also, the peace treaty requires the removal of pigs. Furthermore, the pig is considered a union between two families during the marriage. Pigs are considered as a dowry signifying to give up a woman.
Pigs are considered the most effective tool for appreciating someone, both from the economy and politics. This contribution can give someone in the Yali tribe in West Papua an advantage because the pig supports him at all times. The prestige they obtained indicates the number of pigs and wives measures a man’s wealth.
Overall, many things make the Yali tribe unique. It represents the way they live every day. From an economic perspective, they consider pig ownership a sign of high wealth status. It is because pigs have a slow growth rate compared to other regions in Indonesia. In addition, pigs are highly valued for all necessities in the Yali Tribe.