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Kapauku Pitek, Emily


The Kapauku inhabit the Central Highlands of what is now Irian Jaya, Indonesia (formerly western New Guinea). This entry focuses around the time of 1955, and gives special attention to the village of Botukebo. At this time, the villagers had contact with the Dutch Administration, which established an outpost on Lake Paniani in 1946. The Administration and Christian missionaries did not have influence over the Kapauku until 1956, which is after the time this entry covers. During the focal time, the Kapauku's religious beliefs centered around a creator deity known as Ugatame, who controls all events in this world. Ugatame is an otiose deity, but created other spirits who play a more active role in the daily lives of the Kapauku. Shamans are religious specialists with political authority, and practice curative magic and communicate with spirits. The religious sphere is not separated from the political, economic, or social spheres; this entry considers the religious group to be coterminous with the society at large.

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