Ningerum - History and Cultural Relations

Ningerum were first contacted early in the century by Indonesian bird-of-paradise hunters and later by Dutch and Australian administrative patrols. For fifty years, outside contacts were few and left little impact, but in the 1950s Dutch and Australian government patrols began to visit Ningerum settlements on a regular basis. The government appointed Village constables who were expected to keep order and represent the government's rule of law. Dutch colonial officers administered several villages along the border. After international border agreements between the Dutch and Australian governments, boundary markers were erected in four Ningerum villages in 1962. Not long afterwards, inhabitants of these villages were compelled to move their houses away from the border and choose residence in Irian Barat (now under Indonesian control) or Papua (under the Australians). The Ningerum Patrol Post was opened in 1964, and regular patrols were established two or three times a year. But despite increasing contact with the government for a few years, People on both sides of the border felt neglected once the frequency of patrols began to decline in the mid-1970s. Mining exploration and test drilling in the nearby Star Mountains brought several periods of intense activity, followed by relative neglect. With the construction of the Ok Tedi Mine in the 1980s, large townships have been established in Tabubil and Kiunga. The mine has brought a dramatic increase in contact with expatriates, environmental degradation in Several rivers, and a great deal of commerce to the region. The long-term impact of the mine on Ningerum life and relations with outsiders is still uncertain.

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