Selepet - Settlements

In aboriginal times the people lived in clusters of related hamlets, each hamlet typically consisting of a patrilineal clan centered on a men's house. When the missionaries arrived they encouraged the people to build central villages revolving around churches. The Australian administration also encouraged the building of central villages, but subsequent overcrowding led to a decline in village hygiene that contributed to the spread of disease. It also led to a shortage of arable land near the villages with resultant intravillage feuding and the destruction of gardens. Life in the village became undesirable, and large numbers of people now live in shelters in their gardens and return to the villages primarily to meet with administrative officers or to attend church. Some larger villages have subdivided, and some leaders have talked of relocating whole villages across the coastal ridge in the unclaimed Territory overlooking the coast. Since the 1960s, 60 percent of the population have lived in seven villages within an hour's walk of Kabwum.

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