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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

New Guinea's indigenous tribes are alive and well (just don't call them 'ancient')

New Guinea's indigenous tribes are alive and well (just don't call them 'ancient')
- I spent two years living with groups not far from the Dani, and was disappointed to hear this sort of language still being used. This distorted perspective perpetuates the myth of the “living fossil” or the “backwards tribe”.
After all, what exactly is an “ancient tribe”? Surely, by definition, an ancient tribe is either really, really old, or really, really dead. The Dani are neither. Nor are they “backward”. The 25,000 or so Dani people scattered across the Baliem Valley are very much alive and well, prospering in a challenging region despite being faced with land dispossession from mining, military control from Indonesia, and the occasional film crew from “the West”.