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Momuna tribe: Faith and the way of living

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Momuna people in Yahukimo District. -Jubi/Piter Lokon

Momuna tribe, who live in the lowland of Dekai City, has in common with Korowai tribe, a tribe who spreads in the three administrative areas of Boven Digoel, Mappi and Asmat. The most common between these two tribes is the shape of their traditional house, which is built on a tree. Momuna people call their tree house buku subu.

However, it has changed as the time flies. Currently, Momuna people are rarely living in the tree house. They live in regular houses that were provided by the government of Yahukimo District as part of their social development program. Yet, people still build the buku subu in order to attract some local and domestic tourists to visit their village in Dekai.

Regarding to faith, Momuna tribe always own their belief about creation since long time ago. “We don’t believe in trees or rivers. We believe that there is the One who creates us,” the Momuna tribe chief Ismail Keikera recently told Jubi in his house.

Momuna people believe in the existence of the Creator, and it must have its own place. Therefore, there are some places that regarded as the sacred ones. “In the past, there are some sacred places or prohibitions from our ancestors. These are still believed until now by this generation,” said Keikera.

He made an example. There is a prohibition from the elders for not cutting down or even touching the redwood or in Momuna language is called koweni. Once it is touched, people who have done it could lose their mind. “Many patients that we’ve seen in the hospital were thrashing like crazy, a madman. It is because they touched the koweni tree. If it happened to us (Momuna tribe), there is no need to be taken to the hospital, just give it a blow for a while. They must be cured,” he said.

Given to this fact, however, Momuna tribe has never worshipped trees, stones or rivers. “We only worship the Potmadito (God the Creator) who rules the heaven and the earth. It’s almost similar to the story in the Bible. So, we believe in the existence of God the Creator.”

Gathering and hunting for food

Momuna people do fishing or in their language it calls ci, ploughing sago or mbi, and collecting wild yams or mate for survival. In addition, they also hunt for a living that usually for wild boar, cassowary, crocodile, turtle and so on.

Ismail said sago and yams have always become their staple food. “Not eating sago makes people weak. Rice is just coming recently.”

According to him, only certain people are allowed to cutting down the sago trees. As it is Momuna’s staple food, cutting down the sago trees is clearly to killing Momuna people. “Anyone who’ve caught out cutting down the sago tree could be fined up to Rp 50 million. So, don’t dare to mess with our sago trees because it’s our staple food. Cutting down the sago trees is equal to killing one life,” he said.

However, he did not deny that the government has distributed rice under the rice for poor or rice for prosperous programs, which was a direct assistance of Yahukimo District Government, through PD Irian Bakti to village apparatus.

Since long time ago, Ismail said, their ancestors were always moving around. When the source of food was run out, they had to move to other location for opening a new planting field.

Anthropologists say there are three kinds of nomadic lifestyle, namely hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, and peripatetic nomads.  Hunter-gatherer, according to experts, is the longest survival method in human history. They move to other places to follow the season of the wild plantation and hunting animals. The rotation of swidden cultivation will last for 20 years, and people will always return to their original location for gardening because the land is already fertile.

Shifting cultivation actually fit with real conditions in the field. If soil fertility begins to diminish, people will leave the land in order to improve the cycle of fertility. It is much different to what has been applied in permanent cultivation because the tropical lands are not always fertile if not fertilized.

Indonesian anthropologist Prof. Dr. Subur Budi Santoso stated in his research that the work ethic of the hunter-gatherer people is very strong in a way to achieve the best possible results without destroying the environment. It is an example of the patterns of human adaptation.  (*)

 

Reporter: Piter Lokon

Editor: Pipit Maizier

Arts & Culture

Jayapura presents Tanah Merah Maritime Festival in November

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The coastal indigenous dance performed at the Tanah Merah Maritime Festival last year. – Jubi / Engel Wally

Sentani, Jubi – the Local government of Jayapura District started a campaign introducing the Maritime Festival of Tanah Merah (FBTM) that will be held from 19 to 21 November 2018 in Entiyebo, Tablanusu Village, Depapre Sub-district.

FBFM, which held in 2014 for the first time, is part of the annual tourism agenda of the local government along with the Lake Sentani Festival.

The Acting Head of Culture and Tourism Office of Jayapura District Benyamin Yerisetouw said his office has campaigned about this event to some village heads and community leaders in the five coastal sub-districts within the district.

“Our target is, by 19 to 21 November, all communities can participate in this event, in particular, those from the coastal areas, as well as domestic and international tourists,” Yerisetouw explained when met in his office on Friday (9/14/2018).

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Indonesian Commerce of Chamber and Industry of Jayapura District Hengky Yoku said the economic development of the local community relies on its potential resources.

“This area has many activities which can promote the cultural history of the local community. When this comes in forms of festival or performance, there is an economic value that resulted from transactions of local community and visitors who attend the event.” (*)

 


Reporter: Engel Wally

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Taparu in Kamoro socioculture

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Kamoro women when sorting out sago caterpillars. – Jubi / Doc

Mimika, Jubi – Each clan in Kamoro has ‘taparu’ or a specific location as a place to find food sources when they encircle rivers and mangroves in the lowland estuary of Mimika District.

A Dutch anthropologist J Power states ‘taparu’ is a local terminology emphasizing the relations of land and its inhabitants. “There are also the names of surrounding neighborhoods taken from the ancestral names,” as written in a book “Taparu Fratri of Mimika-Kamoro ethnic groups in Hiripau Village, East Mimika District, Mimika Regency”, by Dessy Pola Usmany et al. from the Ministry Education and Culture Directorate General of Culture Papua Cultural Value Conservation Center, 2013.

‘Taparu’ itself is more related to groups who inhabit within this region or surrounding environment as Kamoro people always encircle the river and sago forest for catching fish or gathering food. Everyone knows their own ‘taparu’.

‘Taparu’ in Kamoro language means the land, while Sempan people call it ‘se iwake’. If someone wants to mark the land he passes in gathering food, he solely adds the prefix ‘we’ such as tumamero-we and efato-we in Omawka village.

Similarly, people in Nawaripi village also do the same. Their areas are including Tumukamiro-we, Viriao-we, and Iwiri-we. All of these names reflect the relationship between the land and inhabitants.

Meanwhile, like the majority of Kamoro people, Ojibwa people believe in the power of their late patrilineal clan that depicted in the symbols of animals. The anthropologists call these symbols with totems which mean a belief that embodies a symbolic representation of society.

Unfortunately, today taparu also face the severest challenges of sedimentation due to tailings of mining activity that cause the silting of river and discolouration of Mollusca habitat in the estuary of Mimika District. (*)

 

Reporter: Dominggus Mampioper

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Soedarmo: Papuan Coffee promoted in Boston and Paris

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The atmosphere of Papua Coffee Festival – Jubi / Alexander Loen

Jayapura, Jubi – Acting Papua Governor Soedarmo said Provincial Government is going to promote Papuan coffee to Boston and Paris shortly.

He revealed this agenda to reporters when opened the Papua Coffee Festival held in the parking of Bank Indonesia. Banks, local entrepreneurs and coffee farmers participated in this event.

“So, we are not only promoting Papuan coffee domestically but also abroad. Through our partner, we will participate in a coffee exhibition in Boston, whereas in September, I am going to send a team to participate in the exhibition held at the Eiffel Tower,” said Soedarmo on Friday (08/03/2018) in Jayapura.

According to him, the taste of Papuan coffee is not less delicious compared to coffee from other Indonesian regions or even other countries, because he has compared it with others. “I have met with the former Colombian Ambassador; then we compared Papuan coffee with Colombian coffee. But Papuan coffee is still better,” he said.

In the same place, Jayapura Mayor Benhur Tommy Mano claimed the municipal government is ready to support the provincial government in developing local commodities by promoting the local food in every event held by the municipal government.

“Indeed, we are not growing coffee here in Jayapura Municipality, but we are the biggest coffee connoisseurs,” Mano said. (*)

 

Reporter: Alexander Loen

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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