Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Professor Finds Possible ‘Lost Tribe of Israel’ in Papua New Guinea

April 25, 2013 5:17 pm 11 comments

The scholar known internationally as the “British Indiana Jones” has tracked a tribal people identifying itself as a “Lost Tribe of Israel” in a remote corner of Papua New Guinea.

Florida International University religious studies professor Tudor Parfitt recently conducted an expedition to Papua New Guinea, where he studies the Gogodala, a tribe of former cannibals who believe they are one the Lost Tribes, according to a Florida International University press release.

The Gogodala are now hunter-gatherers in western Papua New Guinea with very little connection to the outside world. But from the very first encounters with western explorers in the 17th century, the idea took root that ancient Israelite communities were to be found in the islands of the Pacific. Australian missionaries later went on to further propagate the idea.

A decade ago, at the request of tribe leaders, Parfitt conducted DNA testing on the Gogodala to see if he could establish any link to the Middle East. The tests were inconclusive. Nonetheless, the Gogodala have continued to embrace Judaism. During his most recent visit, Parfitt was surprised to see how the Jewish practice had developed in the tribe.

“The bedrock of the religious identity of the Gogodala remains in some respects, their traditional belief system, upon which has been grafted Christianity, which was introduced to the tribe in the 1950s by missionaries,” Parfitt said. “On top of that has been grafted a kind of Judaism. More and more of the Gogodala wear yarmulkes [kippot] and prayer shawls. They’ve started celebrating Jewish holidays and they are using more Hebrew.”

11 Comments

  • Professor,

    I am a practising jew in png. No connection to the gogodalas, just an interlect practing on my own.

    Do you know of anyone else who might be practising the judaism in png?

    I would love to connect with them.

    Pls forward my contact details.

    +675 70052800
    ydidyah@yahoo.com.au

    YDidyah

  • I recon the DNA test needs to be reconsidered and more preferably conducted by someone or a group of the indigenous Jews habitat.

    A clear classical example of the gogos (gogodalas) stands upright in the language they are currently speaking.

    Ive done my research and for sure by 101% that this people deserve what they naturally inherit.

    send a linguistic over and have him/her do her ground works.that’s were the scratch will begin.

  • There is a common misunderstanding here. Prof Tudor Parfitt was only carrying out an expedition, to verify whether the claims of the “lost tribe” was genuine. He even went a step further by carrying out DNA tests, to prove if this theory was correct. The results came back: INCONCLUSIVE! Meaning there was no firm conclusion or result. Obviously, more research needs to be carried out. So in the meantime, let him do his job, without our petty squabble online

  • Professor Tudor probably needs to be corrected for the generalised misconception to include the Gogodalas. Gogodalas were never cannibals. They only fought fierce battles with neighboring tribes or ethnic groups for LAND, TO ENTEND BOUNDARIES AND TO PROTECT THEM.

    Ancestral Gogodalas were already practising a form of sabbath observance only to be converted to observing Sunday worship by the early missionaries when they brought the gospel. They gladly received and accepted it although Sunday was not really theirs. They practised how to live by faith and speak words of faith for the unseen to come into existence – for scouting, warfare, invasion, gardening, hunting, fishing, healing from sicknesses and diseases or injuries, to calm the winds and storms, shorten distances, etc.

    Who can explain where they inherited all these from? It’s quite plain that secular studies will only regard this as impossible and nonsense. A good amount of misconception also took root about some of their practises because of the westernised christianity. Many things they will not tell you because they refer to them as their bone – where the white, red, yellow come from.

    Listen closely to the language they speak, local names of people and places, or discover the giant “Bani’s 8m Footprints”, etc, which the professor was not shown. Why did the Gogodalas not show the professor these things? Why would they hold back some of these things?

  • Sosowane Wagumisi

    Professor, has a tribesman concerned,do not agree with your statement, ”Gogodala’s are not cannivals”
    Again would you clarify ‘What do you mean to say on your DNA findings- ‘INCONCLUSIVE’DNA.

  • Profesor, maybe you should spent more time studing the life style of this people. They are uniqie.

  • This article contain significant factual errors. I spent two years living and workin with the gogagala people, 1998 – 2000. Many are christian, an increasing number secular some holding to traditional beliefs and a small group have adopted this lost tribe belief. The gogadala are one of the largest people groups in the western provience. Any generalisation is bound to be wrong. Next time show some interlectual rigor and publish only truth.

  • Esther Margaret Ingram(Nee Teale)

    Dear Professor Parfitt,
    There were no cannibals in the Gogadala Tribe but there was a lot of inter tribal fighting. My parents were there much earlier than the 1950s with the Unevangelised Fields mission who were already there in the early 1930s and there was no resemblence to Judaism in the tribe then, and neither did that Mission Teach Judaism.My parents both learned the Gogadala language and had a great relationship with the Tribe. They stitched up the head wounds and other body wounds after tribal fighting.Missionaries were there in the Western Province a lot earlier in the 1930s.My Father,Ron Teale went up there in 1939.He helped to build a mission house and school in Awaba with Dick Donaldson in early 1940.Outsiders coming into PNG often miss interpret what they see PNG people do and say.The Gogadala people are now a largely educated people,that is not to say not as you depict them Professor. I don’t know where you get your strange information from.They are not they don’t hunt or gather from their gardens or forest, not a lost Tribe, let alone “a lost Tribe of Israel”!!Also other missionaries build a Teachers’College at Awaba which was later moved to Dauli, after which a Nurses College replaced the Teachers College in recent years.
    A number of my Father’s converts and other missionaries converts who embraced a Faith in Jesus Christ went to help our Aussie soldiers on the Kokoda Trail and became
    known as some of the well known “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels”.I hope this is an eye opener for you. My father is still alive at 97 years of age now, if anyone wants to come and talk to him about the Gogadala.

    • Sosowane Wagumisi

      Yes I agree with you, Gogodala’s are not cannivals. Professor has to confess to the Gogodala tribesman.

  • Raymond in DC

    Given the Jewish aversion to eating blood – because life is in the blood – and the myriad dietary restrictions, I think the idea that a Jewish remnant would succumb to cannibalism as a norm is simply ludicrous.

    • SINI WATUTU

      lET ME CORRECT MR. RAYMOND,

      THE GOGODALAS ARE NOT AND NEVER WERE THEY CANNIBALS, THEY HAVE NEVER TASTED ANY HUMAN FLESH WHATSOEVER, THEY FED ON THE SAME FISH, MEAT AND PROTEIN YOU FEAD ON AND THEY ARE NOT ANIMALS BY THE WAY. THE SNAKES PROFFESOR TUDOR REFERS TO ARE EEL FISH AND THEY ARE FISH NOT SNAKES.

      WHAT DO YOU CLASSIFY THE MANIAC/LUNATIC FEEDING ON A DEAD SOLDIERS HEART IN DAMASCUS,AND LUNATICS FEEDING ON BABY BRAINS

      GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →