Mejbrat - History and Cultural Relations

Indirect contact with peoples not indigenous to the region occurred as early as the sixteenth century, when the first Moluccan traders arrived to seek slaves and locally available spices (principally nutmeg). The Dutch arrived on the Peninsula at the start of the seventeenth century. It was not until the 1920s, however, that any sort of government presence was directly felt in the Mejbrat territory, and sustained programs of government intervention—organizing the inhabitants into registered kampongs or villages—did not occur until 1934. This process of village formation continued until well into the 1950s before it was completed. The largest of these kampongs had a school that doubled as the local mission church, and the schoolteachers—Indonesian or Papuan—did double duty as missionaries. Most of Mejbrat territory was missionized by the Protestant church, but the eastern portion of the area became Catholic. There is little information available regarding the history and cultural relations of precontact times, but it seems safe to say that there was trade both within the Mejbrat territory and between Mejbrat and non-Mejbrat.

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