In the jungle of Indonesian New Guinea, one photographer was able to share the stories of a remote Pacific tribe that may have never been able to share it before.
Until the 1970s, the Korowai people have been believed to be completely cut off from civilization.
They first became famous for constructing tree houses that were 140ft above ground in the canopy area.
But the tribe has now ultimately abandoned this tradition, instead, creating villages on the ground.
A Russian photographer shared his new photos of the tribe and its members operating on their daily tasks like gathering food, feeding children and building.
In southeastern Papua, the Korowai had their very first interaction with the outside world in 1974 when members of one clan met with a group of scientists.
The entire interaction was recorded.
After their 2006 visit to the tribe, an Australian TV crew claimed that the tribe still took part in cannibalism, but the claim has since been proven false.
Human Planet then documented the Korowai in an episode, featuring the tribe and how they built their treetop homes. But, it was later found that the tree houses were only built for the program.
Will Millard earlier in the year was visiting the tribe for BBC’s My Year With The Tribe, where he was informed of how raised houses were commisioned for filming.
The BBC then released a statement following the news on how Human Planet ‘breached editorial standards’ by falsely portraying the life of the thousands of Korowai in the jungle.
Maxim Russkikh, an amateur photographer who captured the photos, shared with Daily Mail the following:
“Korowai are skilled hunters and are sometimes away from their homes for days, hunting for rats, pigs, birds and fish. The staple for their prey consists of sago and bananas. After the sago palm is cut down and split by men, the heart of the sago palm, which produces a starchy substance, is washed and kneaded or beaten by the women to get the sago flour.”
Russkikh also shared how the tribe is being threatened by Christian missionaries along with the Muslim Indonesian government who want to force their culture upon the tribe’s way of life.
He went on to say:
“Korowai have managed to survive in the harsh environment of the rainforest over thousands of years keeping its traditional culture alive. And it seems like right now they are disappearing day by day. They are surrounded by the dozens of missionary villages supported by the Indonesian government with the only purpose to introduce the western culture and spiritual values.”
The photographer continued to share how the tribe had already made so many changes…
“Hundreds of Korowai have moved already from the jungles to newly constructed missionary settlements and more are coming. Often believing that the tribes are ‘primitive’ and living pitiful lives ‘in the dark’, the missionaries’ ultimate aim is to convert them to Christianity. There are less than a hundred uncontacted small tribes around the world and they need to be protected by international law. Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable people on earth, especially in West Papua, and they need to survive.”
I couldn’t agree more!
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