Muyu - History and Cultural Relations

The Muyu probably migrated from the area of the central mountains to the present Muyu area. Because of their trade system they maintained many relations with the neighboring groups. The first contact with non-Papuan people was probably in the period between 1907 and 1915, during a general military exploration of Dutch New Guinea. In 1902 a Dutch Indies administration post was opened on the southeast coast of Dutch New Guinea as the capital of the South New Guinea Division, which included the Muyu area. Foreign relations further developed between 1914 and 1926 when birds of paradise were hunted in South New Guinea by Chinese, Japanese, Australians, and Indonesians, according to Muyu stories. Some young Muyu followed the bird hunters to other parts of the Dutch Indies and Merauke. In 1927 the Upper Digul Subdivision was delineated with Tanah Merah as the capital and the Muyu area as a part of it. From Tanah Merah the first administrative interventions began, especially to control the frequent revenge killings. In 1933 the missionaries of the congregation of the Sacred Heart established a mission post at Ninati, in the Muyu area, followed by the government in 1935, when the Muyu area became a "district" (a sub-subdivision). The Contacts between the Muyu and the foreigners, missionaries, and officials then became more intensive. The Muyu became a subdivision in 1955, with a "controleur BB" (officer of the civil service) as its head, who was responsible to the "resident" of the South New Guinea Division at Merauke. In 1963, when Dutch New Guinea became a province of Indonesia, the Muyu area became a kecamatan, with a camat as its chief, as a part of the kabupaten Merauke, with a bupati as its head. Because of dissatisfaction with lack of development, unfair treatment by the military, and pressure by the OPM ("Organisasi Papua Merdeka," the organization of freedom fighters), about 7,000 Muyu people fled to Papua New Guinea.

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