Gururumba - History and Cultural Relations

The Gururumba and the other sovereignties in the Upper Asaro Valley all have traditional oral narratives that tell of their once being part of a smaller common population living farther downriver from where they are now. Warfare is said to have broken out, and the population split into various factions that moved to the different parts of the upper valley where their descendants are currently found. Archaeological evidence indicates that people have been living in this part of the highlands for some thousands of years. This long period of relative isolation was broken in the 1930s when Australian gold prospectors entered the region. There followed a period of exploration and the introduction of Pax Australiana. The Gururumba were first contacted by an Australian government patrol in 1948, and a one-track dirt road was extended into their territory in 1957. Prior to European contact the Gururumba had little exposure to peoples outside their valley boundaries. They knew and traded with other peoples with different languages, most important of whom were the Chimbu living across the 3,700-meter Asaro-Chimbu Divide. They were regarded by the Gururumba as powerful people and were actively recruited to establish permanent residences among them. The Gururumba were also familiar with the Gende-speaking peoples living in the Bismarck Mountains and the Gahuku and Siane speakers to the southwest and southeast.

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