Nursery area near village of Banti

Carolyn Cook, an anthropologist who's worked with the Amungme tribe for over a decade, took us on a tour of the Pandanus Project near the Amungme village of Banti.  Dr. Cook's idea is to help the Papuans develop more sustainable agriculture that will provide tradable goods and so help the Papuans become less dependent on the mine (because the mine won't last forever!).  Freeport helps with some of the logistics, etc. of the project

This is the site of a Papuan hut before the war between tribes over who could live near the mine.  The mine is a source of jobs, wealth, and food, and the tribe closes to the site would get the lion's share of the goods, so the Dani, Moni, Ekari, Amungme, and Damal tribes fought for the land.  Kal Muller wrote an excellent article describing the events of that war.  The Amungme-Damal alliance killed seven Dani warriors and the Dani-Moni-Ekari alliance killed two Damal warriors.  Because it is taboo to live on land or eat food grown on land where blood was spilled in battle, the huts in the valley had to be evacuated.  Apparently this taboo means that Amungme will not eat food from this site for many, many decades in the future, but that doesn't prevent them from selling food from this blood tainted land to lowland Papuans who wouldn't know any better!
Carolyn directs Amungme workers as they clear small plots of land on the steep hillsides on which they'll grow pandanus nuts (and coffee).  Apparently the pandanus plant also provides useful leaves and grows well in this climate.
The nursery headquarters is a building in which topsoil is screened for planting seeds and storing young plants prior to transplanting into the fields.  Stacie helped the Papuans with their screening when we visited - an enjoyable way to pass time, actually, because the process involves four or five people sitting around one-meter square sieves and rooting through the soil with their fingers and banter about whatever happens to come to mind.
Things grow well in the wet Papuan highlands.  It's sometimes difficult for the untrained eye (i.e., mine) to see where agricultural fields end and jungle begins.

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