meet the ancient, indigenous tribe untouched by civilization in spite of Colonization by Netherlands and now by Indonesia.
Asmat Papua tribe has managed to preserve it’s culture amidst Increasing militarism and displacement of indigenous people from their native land by Indonesian regime.
Many logging posts in the Asmat capital of Agats are owned by foreigners, who employ the tribal people to log the forest. In the 1980s, illegal logging by the military and traders was rampant. Asmat people were abused, unpaid for their work, and discouraged from celebrating their rituals. The then Catholic Bishop, Alphonse Sowada, opposed such activities and the perpetrators were removed.
Asmat Papua—populated by the indigenous people known as the Asmats, the area is one of the most fascinating ones to explore. Unsurprisingly, as a part of the impressive Papua biodiversity, the area is teeming with wildlife. The Asmat regency is a habitat of freshwater dolphins, crocodiles, gray nurse sharks, among others. Visiting the Asmat regency during your Papua cruise is also an excellent opportunity to engage yourself with the famous Asmat people. They used to be a tribe extremely well-known as warriors who practiced head hunting. Today, they are known as tribes of artistic people who create some of the most authentic wood sculptures in the world.
During the Pokman feast, commonly called the resurrection feast, Asmats pay respect to and connect with their ancestors’ spirits. Part of the festival involves a canoe tug-of-war of men versus women.
Women and men playfully attack one another in the game of tug-of-war. Here, men pulling the canoe are blinded by lime hurled from a bamboo. In the last stage of the feast, villagers give their offering to the jeu (traditional house). Each clan wears spirit masks made from the bark of mulberry trees, dances and pounds drums.
Pigs are a prized commodity in Asmat. Wild pigs roam the forest and are hunted for food. If they are captured alive, pigs are kept as pets, raised and fed properly. Stealing or killing a pig usually leads to neighbourhood disputes
Ever since the Indonesian government annexed West Papua from Netherlands New Guinea, the Indonesian transmigration programme has brought an influx of pendatang (foreigners from other islands of Indonesia). There is only one mosque in the village of Atsj, where Indonesian Muslims celebrate Ramadan by lighting fireworks.