The Mystery of Yowoli Fish in Lake Sentani: Between Myth, History, Fact and Tradition

goodmorningpapua.com – The mystery of the missing or extinct Yowoli Fish from Lake Sentani, Jayapura Regency, Papua which has an area of ​​104 km² is interesting to discuss.

Yokiwa Village is one of the traditional villages at the eastern end of Lake Sentani, Jayapura Regency, which is the center of the spread of fish which has become a legend for the local community.

This fact is reinforced by the sculpture of a Yowoli Fish statue in Yokiwa Village which is inhabited by more than 116 Heads of Families (KK) and 526 Souls. This Yowoli fish is one of the ancient treasures that can be found in Yokiwa Village.

According to a community leader who is also the former head of Yokiwa Village, Barnabas Awoitauw, Yowi or Yowoli is a legendary fish that is a wealth of the Yokiwa people’s past.

During the Yowoli fish season, the men of Kampung Yokiwa build fences or traps to accommodate them. Usually, fish caught in wooden traps will be harvested using spears or khonim in the Sentani language with numbers reaching hundreds of tails.

“After collecting a lot, the Yowi fish will be distributed to all people on the outskirts of Lake Sentani as a form of gratitude to the creator. In the past, the tradition of distributing yowi fish was intended so that more yowis would be collected,” said Barnabas Awoitauw, Monday, September 26, 2022.

Barnabas Awoitauw said there was a difference in the name of the legendary fish. According to the Sentani language, the Yowoli fish is called Yowi, while Ayapo is called Yowi, while the Yokiwa language is called Yowoli and the Central Sentani language is called Yoki.

“The Yowoli fish has now become a legend. For that, we made a sculpture of a Yowoli statue or a Yowi fish statue as a symbol of Yokiwa’s wealth, which was rich in natural resources, especially Yowi fish,” he said.

According to Nabas, as Barnabas Awoitauw calls him, many people think that the Yowoli fish have disappeared from Lake Sentani. Even so, Nabas believes, if the legendary fish still exists and lives at the bottom of Lake Sentani and will appear at certain times.

One of the women from Lake Sentani, Ibu Pulanda emphasized the two places where the legendary fish live or gather. The first is in the Itauw Fili River or known today as the Jaifuri River in Yokiwa Village, while the second location is in Dondai Village.

“Yowi fish according to parents’ stories are found in Yokiwa and Dondai,” said Ibu Pulanda.

In addition to the Yowi Fish, there are several native species of Lake Sentani that have also disappeared or become extinct. Such as Kahemoli fish, Himeng, Kahebey, Khandey as well as Saw fish and Ebeuw or turtles.

For this reason, the VI Congress of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (KMAN) in Tanah Tabi became a turning point in bringing back the historical value of Lake Sentani so that it could be protected.

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