Kaluli - Orientation



Identification. "Bosavi kalu" (meaning "men of Bosavi") is the collective designation of four closely related horticulturalist groups who live in the rain forest of the Great Papuan Plateau. Of these four groups (Kaluli, Orogo, Waluli, and Wisaesi), the Kaluli are the most numerous and the most thoroughly studied.

Location. Kaluli longhouses are located along the Northern slope of Mount Bosavi at roughly 142°38′ to 142°55′ W and 6°23′ to 6 ° 29′ S, between the altitudes of 900 and 1,000 meters, in the drainage of the Isawa and Bifo rivers. This is a land of lush, largely virgin rain forest, where the vegetation is unbroken except for the small settlement clearings scattered throughout. Seasonality is not based on changes in temperature, because that averages between 29° and 32° C yearround. Rather, the year is divided into a relatively dry season (March to November) and a rainier one (December to February). During the rainy season there are frequent and violent rainstorms, with driving winds, torrential rains, and impressive thunder and lightning displays. The region is rich in birds and wild game, and it is cut through with myriad brooks and streams.

Demography. The Kaluli were estimated at 1,200 Individuals in 1969 and 2,000 in 1987, which makes them the largest single language group on the plateau. Population levels for all plateau groups are thought to have been substantially higher in the precontact years, but the 1940s brought epidemics of measles and influenza, which devastated many of the groups. The Kaluli lost as much as 25 percent of their population to these epidemics, and their numbers have never fully recovered. Infant mortality rates today are quite high, and influenza epidemics still ravage the plateau periodically.

linguistic Affiliation. Kaluli is a member of the Bosavi Family of Non-Austronesian languages, which also includes Beami (Gebusi).

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