- Minster of Mining, Mineral Resource Authority, Prime Minister Papua New Guinea
- Papua New Guinea
For the past 7 years, Nancy Sullivan and Assoc, a group of PNG ethnographers, have been recording and conserving the enormous cave art system that riddles the northern escarpment of Mt MacGregor as it falls down the headwaters of the Arafundi and the Karawari Rivers.
Some of the people we work with are amongst the last nomadic hunter gatherers in PNG, and the continue to live in these caves with stencils and images that date back, we believe, 20,000 years. As yet we haven’t had the expertise to confirm their age, but they are very similar to caves found in Borneo and Western Australia which have been dated to that era. Our efforts are fully endorsed by the National Museum and Art Gallery in Port Moresby, and we have written numerous articles on their importance. The National Geographic Society, which assists us with small grants, published a story about the Meakambut people in the Februaru 2012 magazine.
A company called Pristine No 18, which is partly owned by Rimbunam Hijau, has now applied for an ELA 2008 covering the majority of these historic caves and the rainforest where the Meakambut still live and thrive. But the Meakambut and the entire Penale tribe are adamantly against the exploration. They know that once Pristine #18 has invested in exploration, they will find it impossible to evict them from their lands and forests. And they know what is at stake: Our company, Nancy Sullivan & Assoc, has spent the past 7 years paying all the school fees (and now project fees), establishing a primary school, and bringing health services (in regular patrols by a pediatric surgeon from Wewak) to the area. This is our quid pro quo for allowing us to study their caves and ultimately produce a book about them. Thus far we have received Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Christensen Fund grants, as well as National Geographic support. Our interest in the region is sincere and longstanding; we have a project that should continue for decades yet and provide these communities with the income from scientists and community development for their future.
For more information about the company and what we do, please see www.nancysullivan.net and for images of the work we do in the caves, please see the following: www.nancysullivan.typepad.com/weblong_2014/04/the-meakambut-penale-ewa-alamblak-and-sumariop-get-a-check-up.html
For details about the Pristine # 18 meeting in the village recently, see our blog:
We have had the support of Ludwig Schulz, the late Angoram MP, and a wide swatch of his constituency who have benefitted from our work.
For the MRA representative who attended the meeting, we understand that Pristine #18 has 2 weeks to assemble an exploration application for the Ministry’s approval. We seek to circumvent this right away, in the interest of all the Penale as well as the Ewa and Sumariop people whose precious caves and histories will be disturbed by this venture.
Please support us in a campagn to keep RH and commercial mining out of these forests and away from the NATIONAL CULTURAL PROPERTY within them. The Ewa people of the upper Karawari have suffered at the hands of art dealers who emptied their caves of carvings before independence and left them with next to nothing as compensation---while their father’s carvings continue to fetch 6 figure prices on the Oceanic art market and can be seen in museums across the US and Europe. They too would be victims of this short term greed if the exploration went forward.
More info: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/karawari-cave-people/jenkins-text
We the undersigned oppose the application by Pristine #18 ELA 2008 to explore for gold in the Karawari region of the East Sepik Province.
This license appication covers the entire Karawari Caves area, putting at dire risk virtually 300 stencilled caves of presumed 20,000 y.a. antiquity and great cultural importance to the State of Papua New Guinea.
The site is under application to be listed as a World Heritage site, and is occupied by some of the last nomadic cave dwellers of PNG, who deeply oppose the license application.