Introduction / History
The Sikaritai live in Papua, the easternmost province of Indonesia. Their language, also called Sikaritai, is used as a language of wider communication by some of the surrounding language groups. The Sikaritai live in four small villages in the area where the Idenburg and Rouffaer Rivers empty into the Mamberamo River about 250 km west of the city of Jayapura. Much of their area is quite flat and swampy.
The Sikaritai make their living by hunting and gathering food in the forest, as well as planting gardens and fishing in the rivers of the area. For getting their drinking water and for washing, they mainly use the river. The area of the Sikaritai is not serviced by electricity or telephones. Their main mode of transportation is by riverboat along the many rivers that wind through the area, or simply by walking. They build their homes from materials from the forest. Most of the children attend primary school, but there is no further education available in their area. The Sikaritai often intermarry with the neighboring language groups. Polygamy is still quite common among the Sikaritai, with many men having two or three wives.
The majority religion of the Sikaritai is Christianity. The church is established in the area, but there is still a strong influence from traditional religion. There are a few Sikaritai who are training to be pastors or ministers among the people.
The Sikaritai are in great need of community development. They have basically no health care and no source of clean water. Their education level and literacy rate among adults is quite low. The church also needs strengthening as the influence of traditional religion is still strong, and polygamy is quite common in the area.
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