Across the Boundaries of Belief: Contemporary Issues in the Anthropology of Religion

By Morton Klass; Maxine Weisgrau | Go to book overview
further to the west. Populations are reported to be between 70,000 and over 100,000. The principal ethnographer of Me culture is Pospisil who did fieldwork in the Kamu valley.

The Western Dani number approximately 150,000 people and constitute the largest society indigenous to Irian Jaya. They inhabit the Central and Western Highlands, from the northern tip of the Grand Valley to the Ilaga valley, situated halfway between Wamena and Enarotali at Lake Paniai. There are several ethnographies available of the various groups of Dani; fieldwork was (or is) carried out by O'Brien in the Konda valley near Karubaga, by Ploeg among the Wanggulam close to Bokondini, by Hayward in the Mulia-Ilu area of the Nogolo river system, and by Larson in the upper Ilaga valley. There is no ethnographic account of the North Balim Dani (Tiom, Pit River, Makki or Danime).

The Hupla people are a small society of about 2500 people, living in the Kaio and Woso (where Soba is located) valleys and on the west flank of the Kwik valley, just north of the Balim gorge. Their language is closely related to Lower Grand Valley Dani (Hetigima). They form the last confederacy on the (south) east side of the Balim river of the series of confederacies found in the Grand Valley.

Most of the participants in the West Melanesia movement are originally from Ambai, a small island off Yapen island in the Cenderawasih (Geelvink) Bay.

2.
Nabai means 'my older sister' or 'my grandmother' in the Me language. The word also refers to any older woman and is then used to show respect. But here it is used as a proper name for the spirit being who promises to deliver western goods to Paulus.
3.
Paulus Tebay came from the same village. In 1987, the two clans were at odds with each other; the relatives of Paulus accused this person of stealing their kunci pabrik (key to unlock the pabrik).
4.
This missionary in turn told us that this person had indeed shown him a stone once, but that he had handed it back to him. After that the cult leader told the people that this missionary had stolen the real stone and given him another one.
5.
Suntlk (menyuntik) means 'to inject, inoculate' in Indonesian. The idea is that the whites possess goods, because they know how to deal with the spirit being; they know the right method, so she does not demand human sacrifices but keeps on delivering the goods to them.
6.
'Freeport Indonesia' refers to the company operating the copper mine at Tembagapura in Damal territory and is used here with the intention of preventing the loss of socio- economic benefits experienced by the Damal. The leaders of this movement do not want the Me to suffer the same fate as the Damal who were driven out by the whites and the Indonesians, whose land was taken over and whose mineral resources were taken away. Yawudi means 'to distribute (food or something else) free of charge' in Me. Nota means 'sweet potato', but refers here to food and wealth. Thus the name of the organization reflects the nature of its mission, i.e. to distribute wealth that will be acquired through the use of the batu delima free of charge. Nobody has to buy; everyone is entitled to have access to wealth.
7.
The terminology one comes across reflects this attitude; 'code' words commonly used are suku (bangsa) terasing or terkebelakang 'isolated/unacculturated or backward tribal groups'.

References

Ellenberger J. D. 1983. A Century of 'Hai' Movements among the Damal of Irian Jaya. In W. Flannery (ed.), Religious Movements in Melanesia, pp. 104-110. Goroka: Melanesian Institute.

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