Miyanmin - Orientation

Identification. The Miyanmin live in Telefomin District of Sandaun (West Sepik) Province and Ambunti District of East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea. There are two divisions: the mountain-dwelling southeastern Miyanmin refer to themselves as am-nakai or (cultured) "house people" and to the northwestern, low-altitude Miyanmin as sa-nakai or (wild) "forest people." Although it is now accepted, the name "Miyanmin" was originally the usage of the neighboring Telefolmin people for a now-extinct Miyanmin local group.

Location. The majority of Miyanmin live at around 1,000 meters in the Donner, Thurnwald, and Stolle mountains in the central cordillera of New Guinea, an area drained by the Upper Sepik, August, and May rivers. A smaller number live in the lowlands on the Upper August River, in the West and Landslip ranges and at the head of the Right May (Mai) River. The total area exceeds 3,800 square kilometers. It is an area of high rainfall and low seasonality and embraces a riety of forest types including midmontane beech and conifer forest, lower-montane oak and mixed rain forest, and lowland rain forest.

Demography. Mianmin speakers number approximately 1,800. Overall population density is 0.5 person per square kilometer. Of this total, the population of the higher-altitude Miyanmin groups of the southeast is approximately 1,150, with a crude population density of 8 persons per square kilometer.

Linguistic Affiliation. They speak a Papuan language called Mianmin, which is a member of the Mountain Ok Subfamily of the Ok Family of languages. Wagarabai is the name given to the dialect of Mianmin spoken by people living at low altitudes on the northern frontier.

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