Kurtatchi - History and Cultural Relations

There is evidence of human occupation on Buka Island more than 28,000 years ago. Speakers of Austronesian languages like Tinputz have been regarded as late arrivals in Bougainville, relative to people in the southern part of the island, who speak entirely different languages. Almost certainly Austronesian languages were spoken there more than 3,000 years ago. Austronesian communities in north Bougainville and Buka Island formed a cultural group, distinguished from southerners by such characteristics as use of large plank canoes, greater importance of fishing and trading, formal initiation for boys, inherited political rank, prohibited cross-cousin marriage and, probably, cannibalism. Bougainville Island was sighted in 1768 by the French navigator for whom it was named. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, Traders and labor recruiters operated on the island, to which Imperial Germany laid claim in 1886. Australia administered what had been German New Guinea from 1914 to 1975. Since then, Bougainville has been part of the North Solomons Province of the independent nation of Papua New Guinea. Europeans took up land in Bougainville, including the Tinputz area, for coconut plantations beginning in the early 1900s and continuing until World War II. Tinputz speakers, who had been recruited for plantations elsewhere in the Pacific, also were employed locally. Bougainville was occupied by the Japanese in World War II, and subsequent military action did considerable damage to the island and its People. Since that time, rapidly changing political and economic conditions have sometimes proved socially disruptive throughout Bougainville.

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