In Papua New Guineans Are Depicted Wearing War-Paint and Carrying Arrows While Filing Serious Lawsuit

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Why is it when the media want to depict people in Papua New Guinea, they frequently use images of traditional costumes, instead of western street clothing? Traditional tribal dress is most often only used for celebrations, special anniversary occasions or tourists--just like in our country. Our general population in the USA is never represented by, say, traditional pilgrim costumes from our history or, even Navy Seals with black grease on their faces. Yet, here it is selects to represent the legal action and claims-- brought forth by two New Guinea men that wear western street clothes--as timeless bow and arrow-carrying savages.

UPDATE: 5/1/2009:, without comment, removed the offensive image shown above from its article . StinkyJournalism  informed FP that long-time Papua New Guinea (PNG) resident and anthropologist, Nancy Sullivan noted the tribesmen in the photo weren’t even from PNG, but from West Papua, Indonesian province. Sullivan wrote: “The image on the FP blog page is from West Papua, not PNG. [Apparently] All savage black people are the same” [to them].

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Under the headline, “New Guinea tribesmen sue The New Yorker,” (FP) ran an out-of-context photo (no date or place is indicated in a caption) of what appears to be fierce New Guinea warriors carrying bows and arrows and battle-ready for tribal war–not Court. Why? The image has nothing to do with the case.

StinkyJournalism’s widely circulated report provided photographs of the two “New Guinea” men, the plaintiffs in the case, Henep Isum Mandingo and Hup Daniel Wemp. They are suing famed UCLA scientist and Pulitzer prize winning author, Jared Diamond for libel per se in New York State Court. StinkyJournalism’s exclusive investigation supports Mandingo’s and Wemp’s claim that they, and their tribes, were wrongly accused of heinous crimes, including rape and murder., and numerous other publications, published our photos of the two men. They are clearly unarmed and wearing western-style street clothes. No war paint or feathers in sight.

So why did FP chose a traditional dress and war paint image– an ahistorical tribal depiction with no caption–to illustrate Mandingo and Wemp and their legal case? Can FP simply ethically ignore the fact that these specific Papua New Guinea men wear western dress?

Read more in StinkyJournalism’s report on this case. As demonstrated here by FP,  Henep Isum Mandingo and Hup Daniel Wemp are battling more than correcting the lies told about them in the New Yorker penned by Diamond.  They are also faced with a media fueled backdrop of continuing stereotypes that depict them, and other indigenous people from Papua New Guinea, as uneducated and fearsome savages wearing war paint–even when filing their Court cases.

Update: 5/2/09: It is interesting to note that FP listed Jared Diamond as number 31 among the members in their 2008 “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” poll.

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In Papua New Guineans Are Depicted Wearing War-Paint and Carrying Arrows While Filing Serious Lawsuit

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One Response

  1. samuel says:

    Papua New Guinea people are like indian will this is great culture.

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