Kawelka Tribe and Big Man


The Kawelka Tribe live in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea.  The following article is a good discussion of the socio-political aspects of the Big Man and his influence.  It is an anthropological analysis of the traditional Moka and the Big Man who must carry it out; and for what the intended goal of his work must accomplish. Follow the green link below.


Big Man

In order to understand what a “Big Man” is, please watch this older video, from 1976.  The article above is about this film and a “Big Man’s” struggles to keep his tribal position and serve his people. Ongka has four wives and 10 children, which is a big responsibility besides his “Big Man” position in the Kawelka tribe.

Because Ongka has only influence and not power, you can see the difficulties he faces as he tries to bring to pass the Big Moka, which is a traditional celebration of the Kawelka tribe, but can only happen when conditions are right.

This tradition is basically a way for Ongka’s tribe to show superiority.  It involves pigs, which is the main consideration of wealth in Ongka’s tribe.  This is an exceptional video because the Kawelkas’ tribal traditions are diminishing with globalization ever on the march.



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