Here are three videos that I really liked that I found on youtube when I searched the Dani tribe; hope you enjoy!
First of all, I wanted to thank everyone who has read this blog: I really appreciate you supporting my academic endeavors! Before I started this project, I knew next to nothing about the Dani tribe. After I started my research on their culture, I saw a whole new way of living and doing things, one that is so opposite of my Western way of life. Hopefully this blog will inspire you to learn more about the Dani, as well as other tribes around the world; it has truly enriched my life, and opened my eyes in ways I could not have imagined. So without further ado, I give you my sources: without them this blog would not have been possible.
Arguably on of the most important symbols in Dani culture, the pig plays two important roles in their lives: as a valuable source of food and nutrition, and as a bartering tool and status symbol. The most practical of theses two would be the food source. The Dani raise these livestock and on certain religious and important occasions, they would slaughter them and have a pig roast. In days past, the Dani only slaughtered pigs once a year, but as the Dani culture converted to the Christian religion they began having pig roasts for every holiday on the Christian calendar. This has made a hugely positive impact on their diet and length of life. Secondly, pigs are also used as a form of currency in the Dani culture. You can barter them for everyday objects that you need, or use them for something more special: for marriage. The going rate for a bride is one pig, so the more pigs you have the more brides you can buy. Although having multiple wives is a sign of power and prestige, it is becoming less common place as the Dani culture becomes more in synch with the Christian religion. No matter what happens in the transitions with marriage and feasting, one thing will remain the same in the equation: the pig.
In the 1970's the Indonesian government tried to force cultural change on the Dani tribe in exchange for monetary government support. The program backfired and today the Dani are still clinging to their cultural beliefs. They still sleep in huts that are separated by gender, much like a contemporary college dormitory. The government wanted to change this practice; they built the Dani modern, single family homes on the outskirts of their village. The Dani do not like their new homes and have instead taking to using them as storage sheds. The Dani also still wear their traditional dress, and for the most part, refuse the governments pressure to wear western style clothing. When missionaries arrived they encouraged the tribe to continue to wear their traditional clothing for two reasons: the Dani do not have sufficient technology to wash these modern clothes so they become dirtier and more ragged more quickly, and two, because the extra dirt in the clothing leads to the Dani contracting skin diseases and other ailments. The valley is quickly becoming a tourist destination. Crowds love to ogle the tribe and their day to day activities. This really encouraged the tribe to keep up with many of the cultural aspects and traditions in the hopes of monetary rewards and gains. Even though there is now money at stake, the Dani are good at escaping the pressures they face to keep their culture alive for their own benefit. The Dani can view the world outside of their own, while the outside world gets a glimpse of a culture who still has its original roots intact.
War with the Dani's is more of an outing or an event rather than an actual blood bath. When two opposing groups, (with one of them being the Dani), disagrees, the two sides meet and try to work out and arrangement. If an agreement cannot be reached , they pick a time and place for the battle. Unlike in Western Warfare, the entire Dani tribe shows up to the battle field, even women and children, to be cheerleaders for their tribe. The two sides face each other and hurl insults back and forth with their fans egging them on. This phase of the battle goes on for quite sometime, and the jeering and insults are just as important as the actual hand to hand combat.
Another thing that differs from Western Warfare are the outfits the warriors choose to wear into battle. This armor is unlike knights of the pasts as it is not useful in protecting the warrior from weapons, however, it does serve another purpose: to display the warriors manliness and importance.
Wearing their fanciest penis sheathes (if that is even possible) the warriors are festooned with shells, feathers, beads, and cowrie shells in intricate patterns and designs are draped over their bodies to show their importance. War paint completes this flashy ensamble; theses outfits are vert special and ceremonial and are treated with the upmost care. No one wants to ruin their outfit. A crowd full of Dani warriors decked out in their finest battle outfits are believed to be the manliest of men, the protectors of the village; this is their big chance to prove their bravery.
When the fighting finally begins, it is relatively short in comparison to the first phase of battle. The warriors use bows and arrows and log spears to attack their opponents. Their aim is not very sure, seeing as rarely anyone is ever injured or dies. The tribal community is so small that even one death has a large ripple effect on the community.
At the end of the day, the battle ends as it began: with words. However, this time they are peaceful words that will resolve the conflict. This style of combat is different from that of the combat world, but it has the same effect: to change the world and work for peace.