Wantoat - History and Cultural Relations



The Wantoat homeland is in what was originally the German colony of Kaiser Wilhelmsland. Although Australia was given the administration of the area by the League of Nations following World War I, the people were first contacted in 1927 by a patrol led by German missionaries. In 1929 the missionaries began evangelization with national evangelists using the Kotte (Kâte) language as a church lingua franca. Rival evangelists from the nearby Kaiapit mission station in the Markham Valley to the south charged them with encroachment, and clashes followed. Subsequently the Wantoat people were divided into two circuits, one having Kotte (Kate) and the other having the Yabem language as the lingua franca. The results of the Australian administration establishing control and bringing peace to the area following World War II were increased mobility, marriage between people of more distant villages, the blending of minor dialectal differences, greater longevity for men, and less polygamy. Administrative control also allowed for the introduction of a limited cash economy and for the young men to leave for employment in towns and plantations. These trends were accelerated with the completion of the central Wantoat airstrip in 1956, the opening of a government patrol post with an English-language school, the arrival of trading companies, and the residency of an expatriate Lutheran missionary in 1960. With the connection of the Wantoat station to the national road system via the Leron Valley in 1985, one can expect ever greater changes.

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Bamun Bange
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Mar 11, 2013 @ 6:06 am
it is a brief only, it there detailed written story about the first contact by the missionaries. would be interested to know more about the history of my people. thank you.

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