“Cannibals, hunters, and home”

by thoughtfulconservative

Jungle diary, part 4 starts,

“So, tell me, do you really eat humans?” I ask Jacob, a Korowai tribesman whose family – the Dayos – we stay with on one of our last nights in the Papuan jungle.

Isak translates from English to Bahasa, and Lakor translates from Bahasa into Korowai. “I have eaten three,” comes the answer, taking the same three-tiered translation journey back to me. Jacob gestures nonchalantly to his left to indicate the direction from which the latest dinner came.

If you remember, the series started with Ms. Harman in search of a group of people called the Korowai,

They are also thought to be among the last people in the world to practice cannibalism.

But the answer above is pretty disappointing. Translation problems could have caused some of the confusion. He was asked if he does, he answered he did.

Ms. Harman notes this in the next paragraph.

My fellow traveler Adam raises an eyebrow. I wonder if someone along the translation line has made this up for the benefit of us visitors.

It’s not surprising that he ate human flesh, many groups about the hundreds that inhabit the island of New Guinea, did at one time. Several men admitted to me in my time in Papua New Guinea that they had eaten human flesh.

The question is, does it still occur?

After a description of capturing a monitor lizard, Ms. Harmon lapses into philosophical hyperbole.

Nonetheless, I end the trip with a few new ideas about the trade-offs we “civilized” societies have made in leaving the jungle.

For while civilization has provided all of the comfort, wealth, culture, sophistication, and finery of the world I live in, to me it has also robbed us of the direct knowledge of our intuitions, our true necessities, and our natural selves.

The Korowai, in some way, represent a form of living alternative to who we could be. And while I would not like to trade worlds, I know that for me there is magic in theirs, too.

The idyllic way many look upon these primitive groups, shows the shallowness of their interaction.

I lived with people like this for most of 21 years and they would trade places with me in a heart beat.

Of course, their view is colored by their own interaction with Westerners.

Shayla in the comments of part 4 sums up my feelings,

They all have Biblical names and are well-Evangelized.

So how do they do it? While the minister isn’t looking they go out for a “bite” to eat?

Reminds me of the Margaret Mead chronicles. They are probably telling him [sic] what he [sic] wants to hear. After awhile they realize that it gets them attention.

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