Whether or not they realize it, the identity and pride of people groups is related very closely to their language, culture, and traditions. Most of the PNG language groups who are experiencing the decline of their mother tongue language are also in great fear of losing the rest of their unique traditions and cultural identity. Therefore the Sepik Partnership Engagement Strategy is starting to do not only language documentation but also cultural documentation in the form of pictures, videos, and recordings.
It is with great excitement that people are gathering and recreating traditional dances with costumes and adornment similar to what their forefathers used. Arts, crafts, and ancestral methods of making every day useful items are re-visited and explained to the children and visitors. Some of the past traditions and activities are not shared with outsiders because they are secret traditions that still have spiritual power and magic attached to them.
Recently SPES member Sam, his son Nathanael, and a friend Ryan visited the village of Yamben in the Juwal language group for the purpose of fulfilling a request to document traditional singsings (dances) and other cultural activities. This event was a celebration of the Juwal people’s heritage and an opportunity for parents and grandparents to share their traditions with their children.
Story by Gary Abbas, Photos by Sam Smucker