Updated Sunday 15 May, 2011 12:18 PM

   Headlines  |  Alternate Histories  |  International Edition

Home Page


Alternate Histories

International Edition

List of Updates

Want to join?

Join Writer Development Section

Writer Development Member Section

Join Club ChangerS


Chris Comments

Book Reviews


Letters To The Editor


Links Page

Terms and Conditions



Alternate Histories

International Edition

Alison Brooks



Other Stuff


If Baseball Integrated Early


Today in Alternate History

This Day in Alternate History Blog









New Guinea without Pigs 




In OTL, the the pig followed mankind in his colonization of the Indo-Pacific, and again later in the conquest of the Americas. The Polynesians took the pig with them to just as many places as did the Europeans centuries later.




One place, was New Guinea. In this large island, cultures developed which relied on the pig for feasts which some have called gluttonous, and which others have said helped to preserve stability and foster ties between people.




But did it have to be?




In this alternate timeline (ATL), I will examine what I think might’ve happened if either a. pigs had never been brought to New Guinea, or if b. pigs had been brought, but failed to survive on New Guinea.




If you have questions, comments, or would like to contribute, please email me at Keenir@hotmail.com Thank you.








I would like to add a disclaimer to this document, pointing out that all of the cultures and people mentioned here, are entirely fictional: they do not exist, nor did they ever exist. The only real person is Captain Cook, and I’m only briefly mentioning him in passing.












Culture of a Short-lived Empire




A Brief History




Captain Cook, in his voyages, made landfall on the coast of New Guinea, and noted in his journal that one of the local kingdoms was ruled by a man of Caucasian descent.




Cook was accurate: the man’s name was Paul Jacobs, a man born and raised in the British Isles, and had survived a shipwreck that’d left him stuck in New Guinea. What Jacobs had done, was to tap into the warrior resource of the Rau Gnutt ti tribesmen.




(note: “Rau Gnutt ti” was how Jacobs pronounced it in Cook’s presence. No record exists as to what the tribal name or its pronounciation was prior to Jacob’s arrival and influence).




But the Rau Gnutt ti Kingdom was not to last. Christian missionaries in the 1820s and ‘30s were noting the abundance of cannibalism in the kingdom, though the missionaries blamed it on the natives not having been sufficiently trained in the Word of God…but it is entirely possible that, in their expansion, the Rau Gnutt ti inadvertantly wiped out one source of nutrition, or that the lower-caste among the Rau Gnutt ti no longer had sufficient room for their own farms. (though not strict and rigid, Rau Gnutt ti castes were marked by suffixes to the name & by tattoos – both of which could be added to, if one changed their caste – nowadays, evidence of Rau Gnutt ti ancestry can be seen by the abundance of surnames containing the name of a caste).




While some historians have blamed Cook and subsequent Europeans for the fall of Jacobs’ kingdom, it is entirely possible that Jacobs himself bears the blame at least in part. While he had not done away with the traditional yam-feasts and yam-measuring (why would he? after all, his rise to power was, in part, thanks to the yams), the role of the yam in social justice had dropped considerably, as the tribe was converted into a kingdom conquering its neighbors – and in some cases, wiping those neighbors out; we know nothing of such tribes as the Ygir and the Omoth, beyond their names.




















A Mountain Culture




A Brief History




The traditional culture of the Tehi-gh-Pteuk are known to us today through secondhand sources...primarily from the biographies of the soldiers who discovered the tribe in the late 1960s, and from missionary publications which pointed out the errs in the ways of the Tehi-gh-Pteuk.




Their numbers no more than sixty full-blooded Tehi-gh-Pteuk today (2005), their descendants have moved into the cities of New Guinea and northern Australia, having lost their ancestral language almost entirely. One of the best-known speakers of Tseisi, the language of Tehi-gh-Pteuk, is a businessman living in Manilla, Philippines – unfortunately, while the research for this document was done, I was unable to secure an interview with him.








Most men of the Tehi-gh-Pteuk – as well as affluent women – keep tame pets in their households. These would not be eaten, except under certain circumstances (see Spirituality). The more such pets a man has, the more resources he has at his disposal.




Such pets typically ranged from tree kangaroos, large possums, cassowaries (by and large, cassowaries were only kept by chiefs). There were other types of pets, though rarer – one observer mentions one chief kept an eagle alongside his lodging.








“Tehi-oko, n pteuk-hueup.”
(translation) “All Things have spirits, only Man has soul.”
--a Tehi-gh-Pteuk proverb.




This tribe practiced a form of shamanism which one anthropologist dubbed “Determinate Shamanism”...




In this, the village shaman would summon the spirit of the sick man’s companion animals, to learn which – if any – of those spirits was responsible for the man’s illness. If one of them was the guilty party, that spirit’s animal would be killed by the shaman, and would be eaten by the sick man.




Sometimes, the spirit had turned from harmless to malicious. Other times, the spirit would be angry that the sick man had – before becoming sick – given all his food to his pets, and little or none to his family. It rested on the shaman’s shoulders to determine which of the two was the case.




Sometimes, however, the man would remain sick. If that happened, or if the shaman had determined that it was not caused by spirits close by, the shaman would seek to find if the illness had been caused by a witch-doctor – almost always from another village. Once that was done, the warriors of the sick man’s village would walk up to – but not into – the guilty village, and shout their demands for the witch-doctor to be handed over for vengance. If handed over, the witch-doctor would be killed by a warrior related to the shaman (or the shaman himself), and eaten by the sick man; if the village refused to hand him over, battles would break commense between the two villages, until either the sick man recovered, or until either village lost all their shamans and witch-doctors of every age-set.




Of course, Tehi-gh-Pteuk have stories in which villages have gone to war to save a sick man, wiping out one neighboring village after another, only to learn that the real culprit was the sick man’s brother. Early Christian missionaries to the region, upon hearing that story, leaped on it as a perfect lesson to accompany “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”



Hit Counter