The Importance of Preserving West Papua’s Cultural Traditions

Tradition in West Papua

One aspect of a country’s cultural wealth is tradition. Indonesian customs are derived from regional cultures that are present throughout the country. Tradition is a local custom or habit that was born and raised in a certain region.[1]

Cultural renewal (strengthening) is another goal that goes along with tradition preservation. Culture is dynamic, much like people. Thus, it is constantly changing, albeit slowly. 

Why Do People Have to Preserve Traditions? 

The Importance of Preserving Tradition

Tradition is ancestral heritage.[2] Many cultures in Papua should be preserved, including the wuon tradition. Tradition or culture can become a magnet for foreign tourists because of its uniqueness. In Indonesia, Bali is one area that still preserves cultural traditions in the current era of globalization and is a tourist destination for foreign and domestic tourists. There are some important points why we must maintain tradition.

Tradition is a priceless heritage that can become the identity of a nation. Preserving tradition means showing gratitude and respect for the ancestors. 

Additionally, a country’s distinctive customs help it stand out from other nations, which can attract both local and international tourists to its culture. Of course, in the end, this will also affect the tourism area.

The Wuon Tradition in West Papua 

Get to Know Wuon Tradition in West Papua

One of the cultural traditions originating from West Papua is the Wuon tradition. Wuon is a hereditary wisdom from the Miyah and Ireres tribes who inhabit the interior of Tambrauw. This tradition is almost extinct because it is almost never done again.

In the local language, the word “Wuon” is called a traditional house for men to learn traditional values and local wisdom. To maintain the culture and sacred values that exist in this tradition, the younger generation of the Miyah and Ireres tribes must take this through the initiation of education through traditional schools. 

Wuon education was first implemented by the three major tribes that inhabit Tambrauw, namely the Abun, Miyah, and Ireres tribes. Later, Wuon’s education spread to areas that are now Maybrat, South Sorong, and Sorong Regencies.

The child will be exiled from his village by being sent to a traditional school, the Wuon traditional house far from the village. Usually, the traditional school is about 15-30 km from the village. The duration of traditional school is divided into three stages: three months, six months, and one year.

Sewiam Sedik, a leader of the Tambrauw Indigenous People, explained that Wuon was only reserved for boys who had entered the adult phase. Boys who enter this education are at least 14 years old and above. 

Preserving Almost Extinct Tradition 

Tradition in West Papua is Very Interesting

The leader of the Tambrauw Indigenous People admits that this tradition is almost extinct. Seeing this condition, he took the initiative to meet with traditional elders in early 2021 to reopen traditional education. And when Sewiam’s proposal was approved in June 2021, Wuon reopened. 

Sewiam explained that Wuon was born from the wishes of the Indigenous People to prepare young people who are independent and have an identity. Some have termed him the West Papua version of a gentleman. According to him, education is one way of meditation. 

Bonifasius Syufi, another Indigenous community leader, hopes that this traditional education can continue to be developed to foster mentality, show a calm way of thinking, cheer up life, give hope to others, and show good attitudes in life behavior to become men who are responsible and mature. 

Meanwhile, Paul, a young man from Tambrauw, said that this tradition needs to be maintained and preserved for future children and grandchildren. 

There are numerous ways to preserve a tradition so future generations will know about it. The younger generation must feel a sense of love for their culture, though, as this matters most. 

There will be an attitude to preserve the culture if there is a sense of love. The largest obstacle to maintaining culture or customs facing the nation’s youth today is globalization. Therefore, let’s work together to preserve tradition out of gratitude and respect for our forefathers.