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Tribe Meets a White Man for the First Time?
2012-11-14 0:00

From: YouTube.com


This compelling video is described:

FILMED IN 1976 in a remote part of Papua New Guinea, this amazing footage captures the moment members of the Toulambi tribe make their first contact with the outside world—and the white man (Jean-Pierre Dutilleux).

It’s fascinating to watch their expressions gradually change from fear and nervousness to wonder and joy, as both sides acknowledge their shared humanity…


“The Toulambi are among the very last witnesses of our distant past. When the last tribe is contacted and moved from the Stone Age into the modern world, from being free and masters of their own destiny to being poor at the lowest level of our Western society, a part of ourselves will vanish forever.”

—Jean-Pierre Dutilleux

The video SEEMS authentic, but there are definitely many skeptics who suggest that while the video isn’t falsified, it may be disingenuous:

Is the “Tribe meets White Man for the First Time” video fake?

The description of the video claims that "Tribe in Papua New Guinea meets white man for the first time. Filmed in 1976. They have never seen modern civilization, or any modern technology." First of all, it is not from 1976. The date is incorrect on many videos because, most likely, someone misread the following disclaimer, at the bottom of the original upload:

Copyright Disclaimer under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976
All rights reserved to the owners the same.

Finding the original upload gives us also a lot more information to go with, from it’s description box:

The white man in the video is the film director Jean-Pierre Dutilleux.
The tribe in question is the Toulambis.
The video is allegedly filmed in 1998 (which, again, is false).

Using that information, I was able to find The hunt for authenticity, an article published in the peer-reviewed journal The Journal of Pacific History, in which the author claims the video is fake but not in the way you would expect. To quote the abstract,

Living neither as cavemen nor as colonized subjects, the Ankave-Anga (Papua-New Guinea) are sufficiently isolated for journalists to have seen them as a “lost tribe”, even though their “contact” with the outside world dated from the 1950s. Nonetheless, decades of interactions with the state, church and marketplace have not deeply altered their society. Australian archives and accounts of life “before the white man came”, even though they refute journalistic dreams of authenticity, paradoxically portray places and times that history can hardly explain.

Unfortunately, there is no English version of the article freely available online. There is, however, a French version of the article which can be read here. According to the article, it is apparently largely documented that Jean-Pierre Dutilleux was not the first white man to meet the Toulambis. Allow me to translate the most relevant passage as best as I can:

Although they marry members of the two other valleys (situated at about one or days on foot), are initiated at the same time as them and visit them regularly, they are sufficiently isolated that each European passing in the area takes a picture of them. It is for this reason that, before being described as living in the Stone Age in Paris Match (Dutilleux 1994a), they had allowed themselves to be photographed by three other ethnologists: J. Mimica (in 1979), myself (in 1985), and P. Bonnemčre (in 1987).

Living downstream of the commercial route that deliver metal tools to the rest of the Ankave tribe ... they have abandoned their stone adze for at least fifty years. “At least,” because, born near 1945, our informant Idzadze Erauye had never seen them before; or because Witi Dzadze, Erwanguye Patse and Idzi Erauye (all in their sixties by 1990) all were young apprentices by the time the first blade arrived. The age of the transition from stone to steel is confirmed by a patrol officer which traveled the South area of the Ankave territory in August 1950. Used “to the thickness of a sheet of paper”, these tools of steel were rare and used by the collectivity, but they were well-known, notably by the Toulambis who were traders of such tools.

The colonial Australian archives also show that the territory of the Toulambis has been by visited by at least six patrols between 1929 and 1972:

Interestingly, Jean-Pierre Dutilleux is also cited in the article, defending himself that:

“If the Toulambis are actors, we should give them a César Award.”

In either case, if you are fluent in French and are curious to see the whole documentary, it can be purchased online here for about three euros.


[...]suggests that the video is either fake or, at the very least, disingenuous. The video appears to be correctly attributed but the date of filming does not match some of the YouTube uploads. The contended issue is the declaration that the tribe in the video had not encountered white skinned people before. Borror0’s research heavily suggests that this is not true.

The information below is still accurate but I reckon that it should be filed under "interesting" instead of "evidence". The counter-evidence makes too strong of a case against it.

Other [tribes] previously known have left their villages to move deeper in the forest to escape conflicts or the religious zeal of evangelical preachers only to be rediscovered and labeled as lost tribes. European explorers first encountered the Toulambi in 1993.

Full article at: skeptics.stackexchange.com

With this information in mind, it’s ultimately up to the viewer to decide if this encounter is ’real’ or not.

~Elizabeth , RedIceCreations.com

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