My Year with the Tribe

Explorer and writer Will Millard spends a year living with the Korowai tribe in Papua (province of Indonesia) in an attempt to understand the pressures they face adapting to a modern world. The tribe has supposedly only had contact with the modern world within the last 50 years.

Will Millard has already visited the Korowai Tribe once, now he returns for his second trip to spend more time with Haup (White Beard) and Halap.

They are some of the last remaining Korowai still living permanently in a treehouse, without any real contact with the outside world. When Will first meets them, their adopted son August is there with them in the forest and his wife Amel gives birth one night, cutting her own umbilical cord with a sharpened piece of wood.

But it soon turns out that they spend most of their time in the government-sponsored villages six hours walk away, and have decided to come to the treehouse to see if they can work with the film crew.

So Will asks them to return to their government-built village, preparing to spend 10 days living with Haup and Halap alone in the middle of the forest. Will returns for his third trip to Korowai, to try and find August and his family, but relations break down and he finds himself in the middle of a very dangerous situation.

The Korowai Tribe

The Korowai tribe is one of the last known tribes in the world to have been cannibals. Papua New Guinea is one of the countries in the world where it is no secret cannibalism has been practiced in the past, and up until quite recently.

The Korowai live in southeastern West Papua in the Indonesian Province of Papua, close to the border with Papua New Guinea. Although mostly living in government-built villages now and parting with old traditions, their numbers are about 3,000.

It is said that the Korowai were unaware of the existence of any people besides themselves, before outsiders made contact with them in 1970. The first documented contact by Western scientists with members of a band of western Korowai (or eastern Citak) took place on March 17–18, 1974. The expedition was co-led by anthropologist Peter Van Arsdale, geographer Robert Mitton, and community developer Mark Grundhoefer.

Thirty men were encountered on the south bank of the Upper Eilanden River, approximately 12 miles east of its junction with the Kolff River and 10 miles north of the Becking River. A basic word list was generated and observations were recorded regarding such things as fire making techniques.

My Year with the Tribe
  • Info
  • Release date2018
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Gavin Searle
  • Production companyKEO films