Three tribes lives in Baliem Valley the Dani in the base, the Lani to the west and the Yali in the south-east. Till this day there is conflict in the resource-rich area between local West Papua population and Indonesian government. Lani Yani and Dani tribes gather in Irian Jaya to elect new Governor who will try to represent they interests in Java. Foreigners are not allowed to attend, take pictures and observing became possible only after extensive dealing with corrupted Indonesian police.
Only on special occasions like elections local people tend to parade in traditional outfits and ammunition..
Before politicians make their speeches, the crowd runs around, holding spears, bows and arrows, simulating a war situation. Afterwards everybody is fed mainly with potatoes, traditionally cooked in “earth ovens”. The food is delivered by shouting participants who run right in to the middle of crowd and drop the food on the grass. When bellies are full, people sit on the ground and listen to what the politicians have to say.
There is place on earth where western culture icons – NBA, rapper Snoop Dogg, coca-cola… and Paradise bird meet together. That place – West Papua.
Villagers produce most of their own food, they plant gardens without using any technical and live stock power. They rely on open-air markets for fruits and vegetables sold by village women. On this rocky land local people set up gardens which can be long distance away from the actual village. In gardens they grow wild sago, breadfruit, yams, taro, sweet potatoes. Usually villagers cook two meals a day, boiling or roasting the food. Hunting of small mammals is also popular between local men.
There are at least 250 main languages spoken by the indigenous people, reflecting the isolation and small numbers of many of the tribes. Each tribe has a distinct culture and their languages are different. Houses and people look similar but there is one guaranteed way to distinguish between the tribes. The males use a “Koteka”, or penis gourd – each tribe having a different style. The Dani men use a long, thin Koteka, the Lani a medium sized wide cannon-like gourd, and the Yali wear the longest one.
Geographical remoteness and difficulties of access have left it’s fragile to strong western influence culture stuck in time, therefore it is our task to stop exploiting the resources of West Papua and preserve what’s left from indigenous people.
If a person has died unexpectedly or if someone is close to death, appropriate rituals and sacrifices are made. The person’s relatives gather, either in order to free the spirit of a person who is dead or try to prevent death, depending on the situation. They wail and sometimes chop off fingers, pull their teeth, or pull out facial hair.