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The Lost Tribes of New Guinea (2004)
This fascinating documentary takes us to West Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), which is the western or Indonesian half of New Guinea, and is one of the most primitive regions on earth. Here we closely examine the lives of three indigenous groups: the Dani, the Asmat and the Korowai, who, despite modern efforts to tame the land and "pacify" them, live as hunter-gatherers or subsistence mountainside farmers, grouped in small clans. Each tribe is very traditional and viewers are advised that nudity is common among the tribal members; for example, Dani women wear only grass skirts, while men wear only a "koteka" or penis gourd.
In the Grand Baliem Valley, we meet the Dani people, whose subsistent living includes growing sweet potatoes and raising pigs. We see the separate roundhouses of the men and women, witness their important ceremonial pig-feast, learn why women cut a finger off when a family member dies, and are shown an example of their famed "smoked" mummies. A visit to the market in the town of Wamena shows how the Dani are influenced today by outside civilization.
Next we travel into the swampy rainforest, in the southern coastal area of the country, and see the Asmat tribes, who, today, are renowned wood carvers, but once were headhunters and cannibals. Here we also witness their distinct traditional ceremonies, which are filled with ritual songs and drumming.
Lastly, we travel deeper inland and meet the Korowai, often called the "tree people," because they live high up in tree houses due to the tremendous amount of rain that falls in this remotest of territories. These people too were once feared because of their cannibalistic ways. Here we learn of their unique tribal ways, including how they use every part of the treasured sago palm tree.