Fore - History and Cultural Relations

The ancestral home of the Fore people is unknown, but linguistic and genetic affinities and vegetative patterns strongly indicate migration routes from the north and east. Australian prospectors first penetrated the highlands in the early 1930s and Australian exploratory patrols entered the region in the late 1940s, bringing with them steel axes, sodium salt, and cloth. In the early 1950s, a Lutheran mission was founded at Tarabo, the colonial government opened a patrol post at Okapa, and various new garden crops, domesticated animals, items of clothing, and other manufactured goods were introduced. Also, subsistence activities began to be augmented by a nascent commercial economy. The first coffee seedlings were planted in 1955, and Fore men began to venture out of the region as migrant wage laborers. In 1957, the Kuru Research Center was opened at Awande to begin intensive study of this disease. Cannibalistic practices ceased about 1960, and since then the annual number of kuru deaths has fallen from about 200 per year to less than 10 per year at present. By the mid-1960s, Okapa had become the regional administrative center and boasted a hospital, school, and several small stores. Elections also had been held for the local government council. Today, most people have access to some formal education, medical care, and other government services, and many have converted to Christianity. The Fore have come to accept a common group identity, and the degree of social isolation and enmity has declined dramatically. They now live as active citizens of the Nation-state of Papua New Guinea.

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