For years the Hewa (literally translated as ‘the savages’) were considered to be head-hunters like their contemporaries on the same continent. Skulls could be found adorning their huts in the middle of the New Guinea jungles. But, it was not the case. In fact, these were the skulls of their dead relatives. The way of the Hewa was to bury the dead upright in a fetal position, arms around the shins, with the head close to the surface of the ground – some skulls breaking through the jungle floor. Two years later, they would dig down and ‘pop’ off the skull, perform a ceremony which included ingesting Beetlenut (a mild mental stimulant) and return the skull to the hut of the relatives. It has not been performed for forty years….or so everyone thought.
Never before photographed or filmed, Stroud returns to the wilds of Papa New Guinea with special permission to travel three arduous days on foot through the jungle to carry out the ‘Cumoutin’ ceremony himself with the guidance of the Hewa. Bow and arrow in hand, machete attached at the belt – a deadly battle always lurks around the next corner. Les will participate in the full honouring ceremony, including ingesting Beetlenut before a village of 800 locals. Here Les proves what every Hewa Tribesman knows – survival isn`t just about protecting and nourishing the body, it is about a state of mind.
With award winning, never before seen ceremonial and survival footage, Les Stroud crafted this stunningly beautiful and compelling series about connecting to the earth through survival and ancient ceremonies with indigenous cultures around the planet.