Successive Migrations On The Indigenous Culture Of Melanesians Of West Papua

Meta Description: Migrations Give An Influence On The Melanesians Culture. Several Factors Determine The Successive Migrations On The Indigenous Culture Of West Papua


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As a region, West Papua of Indonesia has an extraordinary history. Historians have studied the history of Melanesians, the indigenous people of Papua. Through history, people can now investigate the progression of culture or customs. People can discover how the culture is made. As a society, Melanesians are complex. Its culture has changed throughout history, notably because of the external influence of immigrants. 

Successive Migrations To The Indigenous Melanesians of West Papua

According to Rivers (2017), successive migration affects and changes one’s culture. Interestingly, a small number of immigrants can have an impact on the indigenous community, which makes it worth analyzing. The impact brought changes to the social structure through a slow and gradual process. The blending and interaction between two kinds of people with different cultures and customs bring change in human culture. 

Migrations in West Papua have given influence to Melanesian society. The immigrants who have different customs and cultures would later interact with the indigenous. As a result, a blend and merge of two different cultures happen. Therefore, the Melanesian culture that we know today is the result of the successful blending of culture between the immigrants and the indigenous in the past (Rivers, 2017).

Even though the number of immigrants is relatively small, it has the power to impact the Melanesian community. According to Rivers (2017), a small number of immigrants settled in the Melanesian community successfully influenced the community, thereby bringing changes to the local culture and customs. This article will talk about factors that affect the successful blending of culture as a result of the settlement of the immigrants in the indigenous community. 

Factors That Affect The Successive Migrations On The Indigenous Culture: The Character And The Culture Of The People

Several factors or conditions affect the successive migrations of the indigenous culture. Those are the character and the culture of the people, the character of the route which the immigrant takes, and the environment of the indigenous land. These keys determine the outcome of migrants in the indigenous home. In this article, we are going to focus on the character and the culture of the people that influence the successive migrations between the migrants and the indigenous. 

The character and the culture of the people influence the interaction between the newcomers and the early settlers. According to Rivers (2017), several things affect the character or culture of the people. Those are the inherent qualities of the ratio or proportion between the man and woman, the immigrants and the indigenous, and the people’s material and mental resources.

The Inherent Qualities Of The People Themselves Which Gravitate Towards Either Friendly Or Unfriendly Nature.

First, the inherent qualities of the people themselves gravitate towards either friendly or unfriendly nature. If the people are welcoming to newcomers, then the relationship will easily form, vice versa. The people’s acceptance toward change and new ideas or institutions become the predictor. This means that conservative people who are not open to new things are unlikely to merge and form a new relationship with the migrants. 

The Ratio Or Proportion Between The Immigrants And The Indigenous

Second, the ratio or proportion between the immigrants and the indigenous. If the migrants are small in number compared to the indigenous, they will not have a big influence or impact on the locals. And if the indigenous do not welcome them well, there is a possibility they will not survive and thus become defeated. 

They lose against the indigenous who make them captive. However, there is also a possibility that the small number of immigrants can give influence if they are welcomed well by the indigenous. On the other hand, if the number of indigenous is much less than the newcomers, then the newcomers can defeat the indigenous and put them as inferior. 

The People’s Material And Mental Resources

Third, the people’s material and mental resources. It is not only about the number or quantity of the people, but also the quality. The quality in the form of material and mental resources will determine the superiority and inferiority of the people. Even if the migrants are small in quantity, they can compensate for that with high material resources if they are not welcomed well by the indigenous. 

And the mental resources are a more powerful factor that influences the fate of the interaction if the reception is peaceful. The good mental resources in the form of applicable arts and appealing ideas can attract the indigenous to adopt the migrants’ culture (Rivers, 2017). If a small number of migrants can exert influence, then the indigenous culture is based on the immigrant’s culture, even though they are physically indigenous. 

The Ratio Or Proportion Between The Man And Woman

Interestingly, the companionship of a woman plays a role and determines whether the migrants can exert influence or not. This marks human migrations in general, which differentiate them from animals. Humans bring companions when they migrate. The number of women can affect the success of migrations. For instance, if there are not any women at all, the migrants are likely to mate with the indigenous. 

And if there are few women compared to men, then the migrants need to do polyandry if the migrants want to remain apart from the indigenous. If they do not do polyandry, then some of the migrants would mate with the indigenous. This will create two classes of persons where there is a distinction between them. 

But, if there are enough women among the migrants, which does not require them to mate with indigenous women, then the outcome would be the formation of two different kinds of people living side by side – the indigenous and the migrants. If this happens, the cultures and customs of the newcomers and early settlers would likely persist compared to the migrants who mate with the indigenous women. According to Rivers (2017), the migrants who mate with the indigenous women contribute to the formation of the Melanesian culture of Oceania. 


Rivers, W. , H. (2017). The History of Melanesian Society. CUP Archive.