When the Netherlands East Indies won
freedom in 1949, the Dutch kept only Papua of their once vast Pacific Empire.
Prior to the hand-over of Papua to Indonesia in 1965, the Dutch endeavoured to
help the Melanesians of Papua progress to a point where they were able to
determine their own future.
A 1961 map of Netherland New Guinea.
Asmat people believe that a
mythological hero once travelled their land building men's clubhouses. He filled
the halls with wooden figures and then brought them to life by beating a drum,
thus peopling the region. The eithteen-inch carving above made to decorate a
men's house, belonged to a medical missionary at Pirimapoen.
The late Michael Rockefeller, son of
the then New York Governor, tried to buy the figure for the New York City's
Museum of Primitive Art.
Living exhibits in a museum of early man,
plumed Asmat warriors sweep the Zuid Eilandem River in dug-out canoes. Long
isolated by swamps, jungles, gorges, and mountains, many Papuans now face
civilization for the first time. Head-hunters and cannibals until recently,
these tribesmen stand to paddle craft so unstable that white men may tip
them over even when sitting. A bold Asmat wood carving like those sought by
Michael Rockefeller on his ill-fated expedition ornament these canoes. Less
than three weeks after this photograph was taken at Atsj,
Mr. Rockefeller disappeared while on his way to
the same village.
A Casuarina Coast family returns to Pirimapoen
after visiting a neighbouring village.
Youngsters attend school in the building on the