Maisin - History and Cultural Relations

There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of southwestern Collingwood Bay going back 1,000 years, with trading links to Goodenough Island and the much more Distant Trobriand Islands to the east. The Maisin relate that they are relative newcomers to the coast who have displaced the original inhabitants. Elders say that their ancestors emerged from underground about seven generations before the 1980s at a site on the western edge of the Musa Basin. Those who remained behind became the Kosirau; others made their way along coastal and interior routes to their Present locations. At the time of European contact in 1890, the Maisin had a widespread reputation as ferocious warriors, employing huge canoes to sweep down upon their neighbors. In 1900, the administration of British New Guinea established a station at Tufi on Cape Nelson and, within a year, forcibly brought intertribal raiding in the area to a halt. The following year, the Anglican New Guinea Mission opened a church and school in the largest Maisin village of Uiaku. Over the next thirty years, the Maisin gradually became integrated into the emerging colonial society: most young people converted to Christianity and young men routinely signed up to work on distant plantations and in mines. Although Collingwood Bay lay outside the sphere of the Japanese invasion in 1942, all able-bodied Maisin men served as laborers with the Australian forces. Following the war, the pace of national integration quickened. Many Maisin young people attended new secondary and tertiary schools and entered the professional labor force. Those who remained behind experimented with a number of cash crops, most of which failed.

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