Currently, Merauke “the city of Rusa” is one of the districts in Papua Province, Indonesia. This district is the largest and most eastern district in Indonesia. In this district, there is a Marind-anim tribe with its sub-clans among others Kaize, Gebze, Balagaize, Mahuze, Ndiken and Basik-basik. The population of Merauke Regency is around 225,714 people (2018).
Merauke was discovered on February 12, 1902, with the first people to settle wa Dutch government employee. At that time, there were two indigenous tribes, namely Marind Anim and Sohoers. They fought fiercely against the ferocity of nature. However, the area gradually has been growing into a “city”.
What make it interesting is the original name of Merauke. It comes from a word which was popularized by the first immigrants. When migrants asked the residents about what the name of a village was, people answered Maro-ke meant Maro river. The Marind people replied Maro because they thought Maro (which is 500 m wide) was more important than Gandin, the name of the area in the forest. Actually, the indigenous Papuans themselves called the village “Ermasoek”.
As we know, European women like to wear the feathers of the bird of paradise “Cendrawasih” to place on their hats. In Merauke, Indonesians, Europeans and Chinese had explored to hunt as many birds as possible. Luckily, the Dutch government issued to ban the hunting of Candrawasih.
This was the reason why later on, the indigenous population of Merauke was not large, because Merauke became a city for migrants (foreigners). But now, many indigenous Papuans feel happy living in Merauke.
Merauke was also the Dutch government’post as transit point to travel to Boven Digoel. After the Irian Jaya region was integrated with the Dutch Government in 1963, the city was then designated as the capital of Merauke Regency and after PEPERA period (1963-1969), several groups emerged along with the development of Merauke into a city.
Currently, to go to Merauke City (Deer City) can be reached by using a ship (Pelni Ship) or air transportation such as Garuda Indonesia, Sriwijaya Air and Lion Air. Basic necessities were brought by ship from the Java island.
Apart from Cendrawasih, in Merauke there are also many deer. The government needs to be very strict about protecting those native animals of Merauke apart from red kangaroos, pelicans, cassowaries, cuscuses, marsupial rats, turtles and cockatoos. The illegal wildlife trade has become a threat to the preservation of these animals.
Merauke has several features compared to other cities in Papua. From the location, Merauke is the easternmost city in Indonesia and shares border with Papua New Guinea. Residents of neighboring countries also cross the border to buy their daily necessities in Merauke.
In the city of Merauke, a twin monument similar to the Sabang monument was built in 1994, namely Tugu Kembaran Sabang Merauke, located in Sota District. This monument symbolizes the strength of the Indonesian archipelago, spreading from Sabang (Aceh) to Merauke (West Papua). On top of the monument, stands a statue of Garuda Pancasila. While under the monument was written a fragment of Satu Nusa Satu Bangsa song which proves the unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia with its diverse ethnicity and archipelago.