Alchemy in the Rain Forest: Politics, Ecology, and Resilience in a New Guinea Mining Area
Colonialism, Mining, and Missionization
This chapter focuses on the historical encounters between Porgerans and outsiders. First contact occurred in 1938, when colonial patrol officers entered Porgera in search of mineral wealth. Misunderstandings on both sides led to the killing of several Porgerans by armed colonial officers in the initial period of contact and resulted in a series of so-called cargo cults by Porgerans as they sought ritual means to place these encounters in local logics. After World War II gold prospectors and Christian missionaries entered the valley, initiating Porgeran involvement with the outside world. This chapter also traces the buildup to large-scale development of the Porgera Gold Mine that opened in 1990 and highlights that gold, guns, and the Bible remain essential elements of Porgeran identity today.