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The Lani are an indigenous people in Western New Guinea, usually labelled 'Western Dani' by foreign missionaries, or grouped—inaccurately—with the Dani people who inhabit the Baliem Valley to the east.
Lani means "you go". This term is particularly clear in relation to the stories told among the Walak tribe (Western Lani). In this story, the Walak word lani means "you go". This term relates to the name of another Lani tribe called Loma. The Loma are those who live in Puncak Jaya Regency of the Central Highlands. They speak both Lani and Moni languages, and sometimes also speak Amung. According to this story, there was a consensus held in the Grand Valley to divide and spread the people around the highlands. The chief who ordered the separation and spreading ordered one group "Lani" (you go) to one group, and to the other "Loma" (there). Thus, the chief told them to "go", "there", that is, to go towards the direction he was pointing, the western side of the Baliem Valley.
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Sweet potatoes are the main staple of the Lani and are used for dowry and offerings. The main source of meat is from hunting as pigs are too valued to be served often.Pigs are a source of wealth in the Papuan highlands with women suckling pigs and cuddling them to keep them warm. The main way to cook pig is to make a pit oven and lower in packets of meat and sweet potatoes wrapped in leaves into the hot rocks and then burying it to keep the steam in. Houses are thatched with palm leaves and walls are made of a lattice work of rattan and wood. The houses and villages are often enclosed in a compound.
The population of Lani Tribe
The total population of Lani Tribes in the 1980s as reported by Douglas Hayward in his book The Dani of Irian Jaya, Before and After Conversion says there were about 200.000 people.
In Melanesia, Lani is the largest tribe and language. The second one is Mee tribes or language.
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