26 July 2011

West Papua

Papua New Guinea in Indonesia is one of the most heterogeneous nations in the world. In a population of less than seven million, there are more than 850 indigenous languages and at least as many traditional societies. The majority are from the group known as Papuans, whose ancestors arrived in the New Guinea region from the African continent tens of thousands of years ago. Many remote Papuan tribes still have only marginal contact with the outside world.

It has long been a land of mystery, as it's people were not always welcoming to foreigners. It was only in the 20th century that headhunting and cannibalism were finally outlawed. Much of the interior has never been explored by outsiders.

Infamous anthropologist Margaret Mead did extensive research on primitive societies here whose lifestyles remained largely unchanged since the Stone Age.

Michael Clark Rockefeller, youngest child of NY State Governor and US Vice President, Nelson D. Rockefeller, was lost on a Harvard expedition to study a tribe here, and is thought to have drowned or been killed by natives in West Papua.

It is around the Rockefeller mythos that the story of artist AK Rockefeller originates. The fictitious artist's story is that he and four other of Michael's children were raised in West Papua in a tree house and did little outside the village. In later years, AK studied Western cultures and attempts to reach them today to explain the plight of West Papuans through music.

Indonesia has a terrible human rights record in dealing with the native cultures of the islands. AK Rockefeller gives away his music in hopes that you will join the cause to protect tribesmen from government torture. Learn more at his website.

License for AK Rockefeller's website music: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

This is our second post regarding Indonesian culture this month.