The Korowai People – other Countries – other Customs

The Korowai tribe on the Indonesian island of West Papua became known to the world around the beginning of the 1980s, significantly later than the tribes in the Baliem Valley in the highlands. These people live very isolated, in the predominantly swampy and flat jungle area.

Many of the Korowai people live in tree huts up to 160 ft. (50 m) high to protect themselves from witch doctors, raids, neighborhood wars, floods, or parasitic pests. Tools made of stone and bone were commonplace among this tribe not so long ago, and iron and metal were unknown. They use dog and pig bones as body ornaments. They live partially naked or only partially covered with a grass skirt. 

A Korowai man can climb a huge, branchless, jungle tree with ease to search for food, such as bird nests, tree rats, edible plants, mushrooms, or beetle larvae. To this day, they still hunt with bows and arrows, an activity reserved exclusively for the men of the tribe. They eat a varied diet such as crocodiles, wild boars, snakes, spiders, birds, frogs, and many other species. They also eat palm leaves, sago, jungle fruits, yams, sweet potatoes, and bananas, among many other things.

Family groups of up to eight people live in the scattered tree huts. They live in shelters within their tree huts, strictly separated by gender. If a group becomes too large, it splits up.

Helimission also brings help to these people if needed. No area is too remote.