Indonesian officials have found two new tribes in the remote Irian Jaya province who communicate using sign language, the official Antara news agency reported Thursday.
The report from the provincial capital Jayapura said that field officers of the social affairs office had recently discovered the two nomadic tribes living near the Mamberamo River area, about 2,400 miles east of Jakarta.The office's head for social welfare, Onesimus Y Ramandey, said members of the Vahudate and the Aukedate tribes are tall, have dark skin and curly hair and speak using sign language.
He said they roam the areas between Waropen Atas subdistrict, Yapen Waropen district and the edge of the Mamberamo River in Jayapura district, which borders with the Nabire, Puncak Jaya and Jayawijaya districts.
Based on a preliminary survey, the Vahudate tribe has 20 families and the Aukedate tribe 33 families.
Irian Jaya, with its high mountains, steep hills and deep valleys, has hundreds of distinct tribal groups speaking up to 800 dialects with many still living far from the reach of government in a near-Stone Age existence.