In May of 2017, the leader of one of the state of Acre’s largest groups appealed for help to protect the lands of his tribe. Chief Tashka Yawanawa says his people need protection from the Brazilian government because its new policies threaten the tribe’s land rights. At an event organized to appeal to the international community on behalf of the Yawanawa people, the chief said, “It’s a time of struggle for indigenous people … We are losing [our] rights, especially about land...This new government is controlled by agribusiness and the intention is to exploit our territory for logging, mining, getting minerals. If the land is taken away … it will be genocide for indigenous people.” Unfortunately, this story is an example of the norm rather than the exception for indigenous people and their land around the world. HULI WIGMEN (PAPUA NEW GUINEA) The second tribe that we will be studying is the Huli Wigmen of Papua New Guinea. When European explorers first entered the vast Highland area of Papua New Guinea during the 1930s, they were amazed to discover more than one million people living there in a completely undeveloped region. The largest ethnic group currently living in the Highlands of Tari are the Huli, who number between three hundred thousand and four hundred thousand people. The men of Huli have a very colorful tradition of wearing elaborately decorated woven wigs, which they adorn with bunches of multi-colored feathers whenever they have a celebratory festival. A unique clan, the Huli Wigmen live apart from Highland civilization, and teach boys, who are sent to them at fourteen or fifteen years of age, how to make these colorful wigs. Boys usually stay with the Wigmen for about ten years, learning to collect feathers, make armbands, and grow the hair necessary to create these complex and highly wrought wigs.

Chapter 1: The Tribes 13

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