Cannibals, kiaps, and magistrates: three eras impacting Samo spatiality, interpersonal relationships, and Bible translation.

Statement of Responsibility:
Shaw, R. Daniel

This paper traces the key colonial events that impacted the Samo people (Western Province, Papua New Guinea), who live in the last region to be contacted (1961) and derestricted (1969). The result has been a changed Samo perspective regarding interpersonal relationships and a shift in the practice of cannibalism. Australian administrative officers (kiap in Tok Pisin) dealt with cannibalism in the Western Province by using a large police presence and the fear of imprisonment. In 1975 the Samo watched the Australians turn administration over to Melanesian magistrates whose emphasis has been to meld estranged peoples into a nation of “a thousand tribes.” Furthermore, when the Bible was translated into the Samo language, it provided a renewed understanding of human relationships with a broader rationale for the cessation of cannibal raids. Indeed, cannibalism ceased, and centralized villages replaced isolated longhouses. What emerged was a new perspective of those spatial elements necessary for protection and a new rationale for interpersonal relationships. The result has been an altered view of both their land and the people who live on it.

pages 381-398
Papua New Guinea
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