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(from Malay papuwa, “the curly-haired”), the name for the greater part of the indigenous population of the island of New Guinea, the islands of northwestern Melanesia, the northern part of Halmahera Island, and the eastern part of Timor Island. The Papuans number more than 3 million (1972 estimate).

Anthropologically, the Papuans belong to the Melanesian race. They speak Papuan languages. The main elements of their religious beliefs are ancestor worship, magic, and totemism. Christianity was introduced in the late 19th century by missionaries, and today the majority of Papuans are formally Christians. The primitive clan system prevailed until recently, and it still prevails in some regions of New Guinea and the islands of northwestern Melanesia.

The economy of the Papuans is based on slash-and-burn farming of tuberous plants, cultivation of palms and fruit trees, hog raising, fishing, and some hunting. Some of the Papuans work on plantations and in enterprises of the mining industry. The Papuan’s life is almost entirely centered around his clan, each clan consisting of several kin groups. There was no private ownership of land before the European colonization, and property and social differentiation had only begun to take shape. The Russian explorer N. N. Miklukho-Maklai made a great contribution to the ethnographic study of the Papuans.


Miklukho-Maklai, N. N. Sobr. soch., vols. 1–5. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950–54.
Puchkov, P. I. Formirovanie naseleniia Melanezii. Moscow, 1968.
Butinov, N. A. Papuasy Novoi Gvinei. Moscow, 1968.


References in periodicals archive ?
What was known already was that Oceanian individuals, notably Papuan individuals, have significant amounts of Denisovan ancestry.
Within Southeast Asia itself, the feathers continue to be greatly prized among the Papuans and the Malukans of eastern Indonesia for their splendour and the belief in their spiritual potency.
Previous studies have suggested that ancestors of Australians and Papuans came from an early wave of migration.
Public engagement and awareness-raising are central elements of the work we continue to do in Canada, aiming to bring attention to the challenges facing Indigenous Papuans.
Bishop confirmed the Papuan issue was raised in the meeting, along with a host of other regional issues, restating "as we have done on many occasions, publicly and privately, our unconditional support and respect for Indonesia's sovereignty in this regards.
The Committee therefore proposed that the mountain Papuans would be protected in a reserve and studied by competent scientists before changes were slowly introduced.
If sovereignty is a question of performances delivered to different audiences, then a degree of sovereignty or indeed freedom that was adequate for Indonesians may be partial and incomplete from the perspective of Papuans.
Widjojo writes that if Indonesian historians during the era of Soekarno's presidency had understood better the long history of close alliances between Papua and the Moluccas, they would have been able to argue more forcefully against Dutch claims that Papuans are culturally so different that their territory should remain under Dutch rule.
West Papuan revolutionaries demonstrated an uncanny knack for getting inside institutions of power.
NUSA DUA, Indonesia - Three Papuan activists entered the grounds of the Australian consulate in Indonesia's Bali early Sunday to underline their call for leaders of the 21-member APEC to urge Jakarta to release Papuan political prisoners.
Until recently, local people, the Papuans, feels transmigration programmes only bring negative consequences for the indigenous people.
Kirksey frames this event from a "messianic" interpretation in that Papuans perceived reformasi as a moment of long-waited liberation from Indonesian oppression.