Story:  Lam Phong

Far away from Indonesia’s big cities and tourist spots such as Bali, on the southwestern wetlands of Papua, Mabu, lives one of the most remote and primordial tribes in the world: the Korowai.

Their first contact with outsiders didn’t occur until the 1970s, much later than other counterparts on Papua, and many Korowai families have still never made contact with the modern world. 

One striking feature about the Korowai is that they never settle in clusters, but instead stay as individual families living a day’s walk or more from each other. The Korowai are deeply wary of strangers and trespassing can lead to violent clashes. As a result, by the 1970s, many Korowai families had not only never heard of the outside world but hadn’t even visited neighboring houses just one or two days away.

The Korowai build their houses up among the trees to protect against floods, wild beasts and enemies. In more dangerous areas, they nest even higher up and move if their houses show signs of being unsafe or deteriorated.

Treating wild animals as household pets and decorating themselves with fangs and shells, the Korowai still live as their ancestors did without the intrusion of the modern world.