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The Aboriginals of New Guinea and Small Islands Near Australia

Updated on March 5, 2018
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

A descendant of Mohawk Nation and trained in anthropology, Patty has researched and reported on indigenous peoples for over four decades.

Carved memorial pole of the Latmul tribe, Papua New Guinea.
Carved memorial pole of the Latmul tribe, Papua New Guinea. | Source

The Human Migration Program

The study of human migration examines far more than the steps and routes early peoples have taken in various journeys around the world from their lands of origin. This larger ongoing research in the Human Migration Program and the Human Genome Project traces migration through such factors as blood types followed through male ancestors and alternatively, through female ancestors.

Papua New Guinea Men of Gazelle Pensinula
Papua New Guinea Men of Gazelle Pensinula | Source

The specific cultural makers for linking peoples are evident throughout Oceana and the South Pacific and they are numerous.

We find specific markers manifested in tribal religious beliefs, practices and hierarchies; social customs, kinship patterns, oral history, foundation myths, children's stories, the type and nature of societal taboos, art forms and designs/colors, fighting styles and etiquette, languages and linguistics, trading behaviors, shipbuilding techniques, tools, clothing and headgear, group governmental structures and levels, land holdings, musical instruments and vocal techniques, cooking and recipes, food crops, the use or non-use of hallucinogens, transportation methods, hunting patterns and techniques, agricultural methods, and several more.

Papua New Guinea National Coat of Arms, representing Aboriginal Peoples
Papua New Guinea National Coat of Arms, representing Aboriginal Peoples | Source

Tribal Histories

In addition to the long list of factors presented above, combined with unique factors used by various other disciplines of social and anthropological study, there are also the chronicled histories of groups of (Aboriginal) people living together.

These histories may take the form of rock paintings, cave paintings, wall murals on inner walls of the pyramids of Egypt, picture stories woven into fabrics and basketry with fibers, quills and beads; knots tied into length of fibers, tattoo and scarification patterns, written words, maps, diagrams, and drawings of constellations.

Atop all this are popular beliefs of non-Aboriginal peoples about global Indigenous Peoples, whether these notions are correct or incorrect. Popular notions are often mutated a bit with each iteration on the Internet, to a final result of being completely erroneous. Others are not completely not up-to-date with current facts. This all makes for a complex issue in terms of accurately tracking peoples and migration patterns.

All of the dozens of above combined factors hold the capacity to lead human beings into making connections between peoples that are not factual. One of the major sources of error in research is connecting and relating things that are not related.

A Cultural Caveat

It is a possibility that human beings appeared in different parts of the world independently, without migration. However, if this should prove true, then it would be an upset to some major religions and their creation beliefs.

My own view is that the Bible speaks in the Book of Genesis of Adam's sons marrying another people, in the land of Nod -- if Adam's family were the only humans, then who were the people of Nod? There are also questions about whether a certain people of Basque in Spain and another in one area of New Zealand are related to the rest of mankind.

There could be different humanoid species existing on Earth at the same time, if we do not want to consider the supernatural possibilities of spirit beings or even extraterrestrials. Whatever the truth reveals itself to be, it will be fascinating.

The Official Migration Path

Despite evidence from different sources that state otherwise, the following seems the most widely held theory of Human Migration. It differs somewhat from theories and routes put forth by Australia's Monash University, including Joseph Birdsell's work and from some Indigenous oral traditions and likely from some material taught previously in schools.

One hopes that as new correct information is uncovered by the Human Migration Program, that this data will be quickly added.

The Path of Human Migration from Africa to Oceana

The Human Migration Program shows that human beings originated in Africa and moved steadily from West to East and to the North.

Per data in this project, Africans migrated from Africa between 90,000 - 40,000 years ago, according to this scheme:

  • From approximately Egypt or Central Africa or simultaneously or at different times, up through Arab countries through India, then along a southeastern route to Southeast Asia, then
  • To the west edge of Oceana, where they
  • Split into two related groups, one going North (N) and one South (S), then
  • N proceeded north across the top of Australia and up a landbridge to Papua New Guinea, Irian Java, and by boat to the Philippines, while at the same time
  • S proceeded south across Australia, and later
  • A mix of people descended from N mixed with others in Papua New Guinea, Irian Java and perhaps even the Philippines and proceeded to French Polynesia and New Zealand. These people were already related to the Aboriginals in Australia. Added to this, additional Southeast Asians migrated to Samoa, then to Tahiti and then to New Zealand, adding additional diversity.

These findings related to DNA evidence dispute the histories reporting that the man Kupe arrived in what is now New Zealand before anyone else, from Hawaii in 950 AD, followed much later by many Polynesians in 1350 AD to New Zealand and parts of New Guinea. If the DNA evidence is correct, then the stories of Kupe and the Polynesians are myths.

Before the Human Migration Program, evidence came to light that only the New Zealander Aboriginal women (descended from Africa and Southeast Asia) possessed DNA found in the other islands, and also that Melanesian men possessed DNA found in the same islands. Some NZ peoples and Islanders east/northeast of NZ were therefore already a mix of these women and the Melanesian men; that is, a mixture of African, Southeast Asian, and Melanesian.

There is also speculation and some evidence [Smithsonian Institution] that peoples from Oceana and migrated further on by boat, raft, canoe, or other sailing vessel to all along the coastline of California and went east and south, interbreeding, explaining some of the differences found between Native North Americans and Native Central/South Americans in the 21st century.

Area Map, Papua New Guinea or "Land of the Fuzzy-Haired People"


Migration Research Partners

Corporate and agency partners in the Human Migration Program are

  1. National Geographic
  2. The Smithsonian Institution
  3. IBM

The Smithsonian Institution is accepting information provided by any Indigenous Peoples themselves that would like to share it, from around the entire world. The Smithsonian's aim is to build as full and correct a migration model as possible, including the information and oral histories of all Indigenous Peoples willing to supply then.



get directions

Papua New Guinea:
Papua New Guinea

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Migrants from Indonesia likely arrived in PNG about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago.

Asmat Tribe Member
Asmat Tribe Member | Source

Genetic Markers M and B in Aboriginals and Native North Americans

A haplogroup is a specific related group of haplotypes, which are related genes (with some possible minor variation), all located at the same spot on a specific chromosome in descendants from a common ancestor. Peoples that share a Haplogroup are related genetically.

Both M and B Haplogroups represent the first peoples to migrate out of Africa, according to the Human Migration Program. Both groups are traced through the female line (mitrochondrial DNA or mtDNA)

Haplogroup M (mitochondrial DNA) is found in substantial numbers of Aboriginals [especially in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Irian Java, the Philippines, New Zealand, and french Polynesia] and Native American Nations/Canadian First Nations.

M is also found in Central Asia, where it is possessed by 10-15% of people, indicating a population related to Aboriginals and Native North Americans. This creates a relationship between Central Asia and Aboriginals.

Haplogroup B (mitochondrial DNA) is also found in Aboriginals and in Indigenous Peoples from Canada all the way down to the tip of South America. Haplogroup B is found in all Native North, South, and Center Americans, but most strongly among those in North America.

Haplogroup B is found in 17% of Southeast Asians and 20% of Chinese, and to a somewhat lesser extent, in the Japanese and even among Siberians, who both are also related to Native Americans and First Nations.

Nations of Oceana

In addition to Australia and New Zealand, Oceana is a continent of islands that contains at least 37 other countries.

This continent encompasses many of the islands in and around Australia and in the South Pacific. Although the name Oceana is no longer widely used as a continent's name, it is sometimes still seen.

Video: Irian Jaya - Wayang Performance ("Battle")

Tasmania - The Legend of Darlie Yarlie

Additional More Nations of Oceana

  • American Samoa
  • Ashmore and Cartier Islands
  • Baker and Howland Islands
  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos Islands
  • Cook Islands
  • Coral Sea Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Fiji and Tonga
  • French Polynesia
  • Guam
  • Heard and McDonald Islands
  • Jarvis Island
  • Johnston Atoll
  • Kingman Reef
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Midway Islands
  • Nauru
  • New Caledon
  • Niue
  • Norfolk Island

  • Northern Marina Islands
  • Palau
  • Palmyra Atoll
  • Papua New Guinea and Irian Java
  • The Philippines
  • Pitcairn Island
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tahiti
  • Tasmania
  • Tokelau
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • Wake Island
  • Wallis and Futuna

Cultures of New Guinea and Other Islands

Given the inter-relatedness of the Indigenous Peoples of Oceana and portions of Indonesia, the various groups likely developed languages, customs, beliefs, and practices that may be similar in some aspects.

The peoples are just as likely to contain elements influenced by other nations with whom they intermarried. These nations would include those of Southeast Asia, Melanesia, and others.

Video: Papua New Guinea Mudmen, Firedancers, and Others


© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


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    • profile image


      10 years ago

      wow great info dude...

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      12 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I think you may be correct, robie2! - my Native Anerican heritage connects to the (African) Zulu.  

      The more sophisticated and less expensive these DNA texts become, the more we'll know for sure, I think. I'm looking at some other information now; the South Pacific and Southeast Asia/Australia area seem complex to me and fascinating.

      Best regards and thanks for reading!

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      12 years ago from Central New Jersey

      I'mwith you and eagerly awaiting your updates--what a well researched, well written, thoroughly organized effort this is. Fascinating--wonderfu videos too. Thanks so much. Imagine, if we go back far enough we are all family:-)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      12 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Greetings defender, bohica, and compu-smart! I'm very glad you all visited and made comments.

      In my lifetime, I have learned a lot about revisionist history, false information, government coverups (USA?UFOs?Others?) and the circumstance of "just when we think we know what is going on, new information presents itself."

      I am ready for the new information day by day and intend to find out whether thatnew info is factual and true - or not! Please stay with me as I find out - it will be interesting.

    • compu-smart profile image


      12 years ago from London UK

      Patty, its article of knowledge like these that keep my Birthday hubs running late:/


      Keep up your Excellent and always hard work!

    • bohica profile image


      12 years ago

      I am not really sure that I like you!You postings cause me to think and question what I think that I know.And when you make people think - that makes them dangerous.

      So folks, if you want to think -- don't read Patty.

    • defender profile image


      12 years ago from Northern Ohio, us

      Thanks for the hub. All new info for me. I'll have to do more research on this.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      12 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks for reminding me about James Michener, cgull8! I need to read more of his work. I have read some of Thor Heyerdahl's books and found them intriguing.

    • cgull8m profile image


      12 years ago from North Carolina

      Another great hub Patty, it is so fascinating to see how they migrated and settled. I read James Michener's Hawaii, there he describes how people from Polynesia migrated to Hawaii. Thanks for sharing this history.


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