Papua Pegunungan – Papua Mountains

History of Papua Mauntains

Papua Mountains is a province in Indonesia with the capital located in Jayawijaya Regency, precisely on the border of Walesi and Wouma Districts. Mountain Papua was separated from Papua Province along with two other provinces, namely South Papua and Central Papua on 30 June 2022 based on Law Number 16 of 2022. Previously the proposed name for this province was “Central Mountain Papua Province”. Mountainous Papua is the only province in Indonesia that does not have a coastline (landlocked).

Papua Mountain Province is located in the eastern Jayawijaya Mountains. This mountain range is the highest mountain range in Indonesia with peaks such as Puncak Mandala and Puncak Trikora. This province is included in the La Pago traditional territory with various tribes living in valleys flanked by high mountains, they grow sweet potatoes and raise pigs. One of the valleys is the Baliem Valley which is famous for its traditional festivals. The Baliem Valley is also the location of Wamena City as the capital of this province.

Exploration of the Dutch East Indies

Dayaks from Kalimantan lined up a river in the Baliem Valley so that it could be crossed by members of Archbold’s expedition.
Sailors such as Jan Carstenszoon in the 17th century noted the existence of high, snow-covered mountains in the middle of the island of Papua even though it is located on the equator. Europeans called this area terra incognita, which means a mysterious, unmapped area. The first contact between the interior tribes of the Papua Mountain Province and the outside world occurred with an expedition led by Hendrikus Albertus Lorentz in 1909 to find a route to reach the steep and snow-covered Wilhelmina Peak (now called Trikora Peak). The expedition members rested and watched the traditional procession in the Pesechem or Pesegem tribal village. His name was later immortalized in the name Lorentz National Park. After this expedition, many other expeditions were carried out by de Bruyn, Franssen Herderschee, Karel Doorman, and others.

An expedition by van Overeem and Kremer in 1920 succeeded in discovering the Swart Valley (now the Toli Valley in the Tolikara region) and the Dani tribe who lived there. This expedition then discovered Lake Habema and managed to reach Wilhelmina Peak from the north side. The Baliem Valley, which is inhabited by the Dani tribe, was discovered accidentally from an airplane by an expedition led by Richard Archbold from the American Museum of Natural History in 1938. This expedition was reinforced by dozens of Dutch soldiers along with Dayak people as load bearers. The Dutch call the Baliem Valley Groote Vallei or “Great Valley”.

Corporal Margaret Hastings, one of the survivors of the Gremlin Special incident in 1945 with the Dani tribe in the Baliem Valley.

Mitchel Zuckoff in his 2011 book Lost in Shangri-La revealed that during World War II this area had not been much mapped. The geography consists of high, cloudy mountains and dense forests, plus unfamiliar inland tribes that claim many victims. One famous incident occurred on May 13, 1945 when a Gremlin Special aircraft crashed into the edge of a mountain. A special operation was then dispatched and three people were rescued. Their story of survival made the news that year.[11]

The mission of the church and the establishment of colonial rule

Dutch employees in the Baliem Valley, 1958.
Christianity entered the Baliem Valley in 1954 by a team of missionaries from the American Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) flown from Sentani. Its members include pastors Lioyd Van Stone and Einer Michelson. Not long afterward, the Dutch government, through controller Frits Veldkamp, also established a government post here to strengthen its influence in the interior. Then villages, airfields and other infrastructure were built in this area which became the forerunner of Wamena City. Wamena’s anniversary is celebrated every December 10, 1956 following the establishment of this Dutch government post.

Sterrengebergte or the Star Mountains, which are located at the eastern end near the country’s border, are one of the unexplored areas of the Netherlands. The Royal Dutch Geographical Society or KNAG (Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap) then launched a large-scale expedition in 1959 bringing scientists from various fields such as zoology, botany and anthropology. Apart from gaining new knowledge about the condition of the region and its inhabitants, the expedition members also succeeded in climbing Juliana Peak (now called Mandala Peak). Before starting this large expedition, a survey was carried out first to find a suitable place as a camp and airfield. Dutch employees such as Jan Sneep, Nol Hermans, and Pim Schoorl were sent on a small expedition to the Sibil Valley in 1955 and met the inhabitants, namely the Sibil or Ngalum tribe. In 1958, the Dutch government inaugurated a government post in the Sibil Valley which would later become Oksibil City, the capital of the Bintang Mountains Regency. Dutch rule in this region was quite short with the entry of Dutch New Guinea into Indonesia in 1963.

Post colonial

After Dutch New Guinea (Papua) succeeded in entering Indonesian territory, the government issued Law No. 12 of 1969 concerning the Establishment of the Autonomous Province of West Irian and Autonomous Districts in West Irian Province. One of them is Jayawijaya Regency which includes the Heads of the Local Government of Baliem, Bokondini, Tiom, and Oksibil.[15] This district is the forerunner of the Papua Mountain Province. In 2002, Jayawijaya Regency was divided into Jayawijaya, Yahukimo, Bintang Mountains and Tolikara Regencies. Then in 2008, Jayawijaya Regency was again divided into Jayawijaya, Lanny Jaya, Nduga, Central Mamberamo and Yalimo Regencies. The 8 regencies that broke up Jayawijaya will finally be reunited into the Papua Mountain Province with its capital in Wamena in 2022.

Since entering Indonesian territory, this area has often been marked by acts of violence carried out by the terrorist separatist group Free Papua Organization (OPM). Several incidents caused by OPM include the hostage-taking of the research team in Mapenduma in 1996, the murder of Istaka Karya workers who were building a bridge in Nduga in 2018,[17] the burning of high schools and health centers accompanied by the murder of health workers in the Bintang Mountains,[18][ 19] and the hostage-taking of Susi Air pilot Phillips Mertens in February 2023 at Paro Airport, Nduga.[20] In Papua’s mountains, there are also frequent public riots which cause material loss and loss of life, for example the attack and burning of the mosque for Id prayers in the capital of Tolikara Regency in 2015,[21] the burning of government offices in Yalimo as a result of the 2021 regional elections,[22] the riots in Wamena in 2019 which killed 10 Minang migrants,[23] and clashes between Lanny Jaya residents and Nduga residents in Wouma, Jayawijaya using arrows accompanied by burning of houses in 2022.[24]

Papua Mountain Province
After Law no. 16 of 2022 was inaugurated, the regents in this new province collaborated with the Ministry of Home Affairs through Working Group (Pokja) III of the New Autonomous Region Monitoring Task Force to arrange things that needed to be prepared so that this new province could run immediately, such as the location of the governor’s office and temporary services. , temporary budget before the Pilkada is held, State Civil Apparatus (ASN), as well as grant funds from each district, parent province and central government.[25] The Working Group also reviewed prospective locations for future Provincial Government office centers with alternatives offered between Muliama District, Wamena City, Megapura, or Hubikiak. Meanwhile, the temporary governor’s office is at the Jayawijaya Regency Education Office, although there are other recommendations such as Wamena Mall. The temporary governor’s office sign was installed on September 6 2022 but was damaged a day later by 9 members of the Jayawijaya Regency Student Association (HMKJ) who were eventually arrested by the police.[26][27][28] On November 11 2022, the Papua Mountain Province and two other new provinces were inaugurated by the Minister of Home Affairs. On the same day, former Head of the Papua High Prosecutor’s Office Nikolaus Kondomo was appointed as acting governor of Mountainous Papua.