Ningerum - Settlements

Customary settlements were small hamlets located on clan territories near gardens, sago swamps, and hunting lands. Most hamlets consisted of a single extended-family dwelling ( am or hanua ) built as a tree house 5 meters or more above the ground. Houses were rectangular, with separate sections for women and men. Each section contained two or more hearths. About every five years, houses were rebuilt near new gardens. Beginning about 1950, Ningerum began forming Villages ( kampong ) at the encouragement of Dutch missionaries. At first these villages comprised only a few houses, but they gradually increased in size with the encouragement of Australian officials. In the 1980s there were thirty-two Ningerum villages in Papua New Guinea, ranging in size from 29 people (in two houses) to 350 (in more than fifty houses). Like customary hamlets, most villages have periodically moved following epidemics or intravillage conflict. In Irian Jaya, the Indonesian government encouraged even larger villages ( desa ). Village formation has not led Ningerum to abandon their customary residences; most families have both an isolated bush house, near their gardens, and a village house. Individuals and their nuclear families continue to reside with extended families, but they may live with different sets of relatives in their village and bush houses. Most Ningerum consider their bush house as their primary residence but spend two to three days in the village each week.

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