The fate of some of Papua's indigenous tribes came to light at a public discussion themed Cultural Diversity in Supporting the Papua People's Welfare held by the communications and informatics ministry here Thursday.
A discussion participant, Rudi Mebri, spoke about the disappearance of certain tribes in Indonesia's most-eastern province because they lost in the acculturation competition with other groups.
Rudi, a native Papuan, said the Sebo tribe who used to live in the Kayu Pulau region in Jayapura Bay had died out decades ago.
Now, the Tampoto tribe in Kampung Skow Mabo in Jayapura district bordering Papua New Guinea was on the brink of extinction. Of the whole tribe, only one person was now still alive. It was a man in his twenties.
Also near extinction was the Dasem tribe that lived in the Waena area of Jayapura city. The Dasem tribal people had also died out except one family consisting of several people.
Rudi said he was afraid more tribes in Papua were threatened by extinction without any body knowing or caring about it. He therefore hoped the government would pay greater attention to Papua's tribal people.
According data collected by various bodies, Papua's population included at least 250 tribes which each spoke its own language.
Another speaker at the discussion, senior journalist Tarman Azzam, said the phenomenon of tribes becoming extinct was also happening in Africa and for the same reason as in Papua.
He said he believed the extinction of the Dasem and Tampoto tribes in Papua was something inevitable.
Citing en example of an indegous tribe that had survived the acculturation competition, Tarman referred to the Dayak in Kalimantan. The Dayak were able to interact with and adapt to people from outside without losing their own cultural identity. For instance, they also adopted the clothes worn by outside people.
In Papua, Tarman said, tribal people were rather slow in adapting to external ways of life. Acub Zainal who was Papua governor many years ago failed to persuade the population of Papua`s central highlands to discard their koteka attire for modern clothing because the tribal people resisted acculturation.