Is this video fake? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyHYbsXt05k

Most of the links according this video have no information besides the video itself and are very recent. How should I proceed to get more information about this expedition?

  • have a read: skyvington.blogspot.com/2011/06/human-contacts.html – user3821 Jun 24 '11 at 16:56
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    Funny how the aboriginals are surprised to meet the white guy, but the cameraman filming them coming through the grass, then crossing the fast stream to film them coming over the bridge doesn't faze them. – Mike Dunlavey Jan 18 '12 at 18:50

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:

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. Bonnemère (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.

  • Interesting that the upload mentions 1998; Dutilleux's website mentions 1993 but it would make sense that the people being filmed were not the first people from the tribe that were contacted. This could explain the differences. Did you happen to find a confirmation on Dutilleux's site for the 1998 date? – MrHen Jun 24 '11 at 19:25
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    @MrHen: I found an article tearing the documentary into pieces that dates back to 1996. – Borror0 Jun 24 '11 at 21:56
  • Thank you. I gave my answer an update pointing here. Good sleuthing; +1. – MrHen Jun 24 '11 at 22:48

This article claims it's fake:

The article says that several knowledgeable anthropologists denounced the fake video after it was shown on TV. From the article (sorry about the bad quality automatic translation):

[Pierre] Lemonnier knows well the tribe. In an article entitled "Hunting authentic" , published in 1999 by the magazine "Land", he writes:

"Brought to taste matches, to spit out the rice and frightened of his own image in a mirror, the main actor in this sketch devoted to the authentic told me crying shame. The Toulambis could only follow the letter directing the parties Papuan guides to meet them dictated to them by their own vision of the Stone Age. Have hidden their metal tools and removed their belts of beads and plastic pieces of European clothes they wore, they are bent to orders on behalf of the nurses who had earlier spread the news of their "discovery" . Who lives in four days walk from the nearest clinics in a region of endemic malaria, a little quinine is well worth a good joke. "

Dutilleux, for its part, has maintained his story "If Toulambis are actors, they must provide a Caesar," he said.

Still, before Dutilleux, had left the Toulambi photographed by three anthropologists: Jadran Mimica (1979), Pierre Lemonnier (1985), and Pascale Bonnemere (1987)

Here's some additional information on Pierre Lemonnier, one of the anthropologists reporting the video as fake:

Note that additional information about Jean-Pierre Dutilleux, different from his 90's styled homepage, is very hard to come by.

Given all these informations, I'm starting to be convinced that the video may be false indeed. If somebody who speaks french could perform some additional research and provide further insight, that would be appreciated.

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    Check my answer. I'm fluent in French and found a peer-received article by Pierre Lemonnier addressing the documentary. Also, welcome to Skeptics! :) – Borror0 Jun 24 '11 at 21:59
  • That's a great job you did with your answer, I didn't notice it before writing mine. And thanks for the welcome! – Ricardo Sanchez-Saez Jun 25 '11 at 2:19

Update: Borror0's answer 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.

Jean-Pierre Dutilleux is credited as the maker of the film. He has a personal website with a full biography. IMDb also has a page for him. Notable achievements include being nominated for an Academy Award for his 1978 film Raoni.

His own website gives this information about the video being reposted on YouTube:

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.

The pictures from that page also match the people in the video (note the distinctive nose piercing):

Toulambi man

So the information provided by the filmmaker is coherent and matches the video on YouTube. I was unable to locate secondary references to the video or a tribe named Toulambi.

EDIT: Actually, this is a different upload of the same video I was using to find the above information. The video linked claims this was from 1976; Dutilleux's page claims that the tribe wasn't encountered until 1993.

Wikipedia provides an entirely unsourced comment about Papua New Guinea's tribes that may help provide some credibility to a tribe not being contacted until the video:

Papua New Guinea is one of the most heterogeneous nations in the world. There are hundreds of ethnic groups indigenous to Papua New Guinea, the majority being from the group known as Papuans, whose ancestors arrived in the New Guinea region tens of thousands of years ago. Many remote Papuan tribes still have only marginal contact with the outside world.

The listing for "minor ethic groups" simply says Wopkaimin and over 700 others (again unsourced.)

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