Introduction / History
The Misima people live on verdant islands off the southeastern end of Papua New Guinea. Surrounded by coral reefs, the mountainous islands are covered with lush tropical vegetation. Although Misima Island is about 25 miles long, most of the islands are tiny, only a mile or two in length.
The people of the Misima are subsistence farmers and fishermen. Some also grow cash crops such as copra (dried coconut meat) and vanilla. Many dive for sea cucumbers when they are in season. Some also rely on relatives who leave the islands to find work in Papua New Guinea. When they have cash, they will purchase items such as tea, sugar, rice, and canned meat to supplement their diet. In this culture, individuals trace their lineage or clan through their mothers. When someone dies, the people hold feasts over a period of several years to honor the person and his family. The Misima get along well with their neighbors, trading with one another, and even intermarrying.
Missionaries introduced Christianity to the region more than 100 years ago, and most of the people identify themselves as Christians. However, some of the people still practice traditional religion, and others, particularly on Misima, follow “cargo cults” a religion “based around the expected arrival of ancestral spirits in ships bringing cargoes of food and other goods.”
Misima is the dominant language among the islands. A Misima New Testament is already available in print, audio and electronic formats. The Misima also have portions of six Old Testament books.
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