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Michael Rockefeller disappearance
polynesian posh boy
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Aug 26, 2004
Posts: 85
Posted: 2005-03-17 1:26 pm   Permalink

The above statement is to be taken in jest. Fancinating report.

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Travellin' Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 05, 2004
Posts: 227
From: Vancouver, Canada
Posted: 2005-03-30 4:42 pm   Permalink

Tracked down a little more info about this, but still looking for photos--any photos--I have those that crop up on 'google images' but would like larger, clearer pics. I'm also looking for any personal info about michael Rockefeller that doesn't relate to his new guinea trip. I know the basics of his family etc, but if anyone has any sources of information about who he was as a person, it would be much appreciated.

(incidentally, if anyone has a copy of his $$$ rare book they want to trade for some original tiki art... LET ME KNOW!)

The reason for all this is that I'm working on a painting about M. Rockefeller's days in New Guinea... but more on that later...

Anyway, here's another fascinating take on the whole thing that I found online. Its a longgie but a goodie!


by John Godwin (SOURCE: Copyright 1976 by John Godwin.)

Our helicopter danced and leaped crazily, buffeted by blasts of hot, moist air. Below, as far as our eyes could see, the jungle stretched like a crumpled green rug, the solid mass of treetops broken only by mudbrown patches of loraro and mangrove swamps. This was the Asmat coastline of southern New Guinea, the region known as "the land of the lapping death."

A tangled morass of bog and forest, thick with insects and leeches but unmarred by a single road, airfield, or telephone wire.
Down there lived an estimated 18,000 natives, but no sign of human habitation was visible from above. Most of the villages lay so deeply buried in the jungle that their people rarely saw the sun.

It was mid-November, 1961, and I knew that the greatest search operation in the island's history was running full gear: Dutch and Australian aircraft crisscrossing the sky, canoes and launches nosing along the rivers, thousands of marines, police troopers, and tribesmen beating through the bush. But all this might have been happening in another country. From where we sat, there was nothing but the infinity of vegetation.

Before starting out I had asked Sergeant Gerig, the Dutch patrol officer flying with us, how he rated our chances of finding any lone man in this wilderness.

He shrugged. "About as good as finding half a needle in a thousand haystacks, mijnheer."

The man we were searching for, however, wasn't just "any" lone man. His name was Michael Clark Rockefeller, and he happened to be the son of the governor of New York and heir to one of the largest fortunes on earth.

Michael was a Harvard graduate, but otherwise refused to follow in his father's footsteps. After graduating cum laude and serving a hitch in the army, he went to New Guinea as a member of the Harvard Peabody Museum expedition. As he explained it, "I have the desire to do something romantic and adventurous at a time when frontiers in the real sense of the word are disappearing."

He couldn't have picked a better place to fulfill that particular desire. New Guinea is an island about as large as Texas and New York State combined, perched on the northern tip of Australia. It remains one of the least explored areas in the world; vast patches are as unmapped as the mountains of the moon. The island has never had an accurate census; the population is believed to number approximately 4 million.

Rockefeller's first expedition went to the Baliem Valley in the central highlands, a region of clouds and constant drizzle and perpetually warring Dani tribesmen, so secluded that explorers had tagged it "Shangri-la." The Harvard men stayed there until September, 1961, filming bloody tribal battles and collecting Dani weaponry and artifacts.

Michael returned home for a brief rest, but New Guinea seemed to draw him like a magnet. Two months later he was back, this time on behalf of the New York Museum of Primitive Art. He headed for the Asmat coast in the South. His object was to purchase some of the decorated bis poles which the natives carve in memory of their ancestors. Above all, he wanted samples of the human skulls that serve the Asmat warriors as tokens of prowess in combat as well as hut decorations.

For the Asmats were headhunters (some of them were also cannibals), but their treatment of the trophies varied sharply from that of other head-takers in different parts of the world. The Asmats didn't shrink heads. Instead they stripped heads down to the skull, let them bleach in the sun, then painted them in artistic designs and stuck them on poles to proclaim their machismo.

Michael Rockefeller was 23 when he returned to New Guinea, a rangy, bearded lad whose round spectacles gave him a deceptively indoorish appearance. Actually he was an outstanding athlete in peak physical condition, untroubled by the murderous climate of the region (the humidity, I remember, was such that a cigarette pack I put under my bed at night showed a film of mildew by morning).

Unfortunately the young American knew little about the dangers of the Asmat coast. He took risks that made some of the more experienced locals blanch. And he rarely took warning.

The last persons to caution him were the Dutch Crozier fathers at the mission station of Agats. Michael arrived there in a 30-ft. catamaran made of two native canoes lashed together by planks and powered by a single 18-hp outboard motor. It was a highly maneuverable craft, but quite unsuitable for what he had in mind. The mission fathers shook their heads when they learned that he intended to cruise in it to the village of Atsj, 25 mi. down the coast.

They explained that this journey would take him across the mouth of the Eilanden River where it empties into the Arafura Sea. At this point the coastal tides often rolled out in waves up to 20 ft. high. No place for a fragile makeshift craft, heavily laden with trading goods.

On the morning of Thursday, Nov. 16, Michael started out just the same. His only companions were a Dutch anthropologist named Rene Wassing and two Asmat helpers. Around noon, just as they were passing across the mouth of the Eilanden, the warning of the missionaries came true. A huge wave suddenly surged over the boat, swamping the outboard motor. Now the vessel was drifting helplessly, the fierce tidal rip sweeping it out into the Arafura Sea.

The two natives dived overboard almost immediately and reached land. But the white men hung on, stubbornly trying to tinker the engine back to life.

Twenty-four hours later they were still drifting with a dead motor. Both of them believed that the Asmats had simply left them to their fate--falsely, as it turned out, because the natives had already alerted the Dutch authorities. But the helpless drifting and the beckoning shoreline were too much for Michael's active temperament. He told his companion that he'd try to swim to the coast.

Wassing warned him against the attempt. The mangrove swamps of the coast were only about 3 mi. away, but the water was known to contain both sharks and crocodiles. Michael merely grinned and made his preparations. He stripped down to his shorts, tied his glasses firmly to his ears, and strapped on a jerry can and an empty gas container to make an impromptu float. He was an excellent swimmer, and with these supports the 3 mi. to land seemed easy.

Wassing watched him disappear--the last confirmed witness to see the young man alive. For with this swim Michael Rockefeller joined Ambrose Bierce, Colonel Fawcett, and Amelia Earhart on the mystery list of vanished celebrities.

Late that afternoon Wassing was picked up by a Royal Netherlands Navy flying boat. His first question was about young Rockefeller. The navy pilots shrugged. Nothing had been seen or heard of him.

As soon as the flying boat docked, New Guinea's meager communications network began to hum. The Dutch administrator at Agats raised his superior at Merauke, 240 mi. away, by shortwave radio. Merauke radioed Hollandia [now Djajapura], the colony's capital. The governor informed The Hague, in far-off Holland. From there the message went to the Dutch embassy in Washington. And the ambassador telephoned Gov. Nelson Rockefeller in New York.
The governor immediately chartered a jet for $38,000 to fly him and Michael's twin sister, Mary, to the scene, more than 10,000 mi. from New York. Even before he arrived there, an immense search apparatus leaped into action.

Dutch Gov. P. J. Platteel mobilized every aircraft at his disposal, ordered out marines, police troopers, and every naval patrol craft to scour the area. Australia dispatched helicopters and a squadron of air force transport planes. Most important, some 5,000 local Asmats joined the search voluntarily, fired by the royal reward of 250 sticks of trading tobacco offered for any clue to Michael's whereabouts.

Also on the spot were nearly 100 reporters and cameramen (including me) representing the world's press, television, and radio.
Merauke, a small cluster of huts with normally 3,000 inhabitants, became search headquarters, and temporarily the most overcrowded spot in the Southern Hemisphere. The temperature hovered around 100 in the shade, air conditioning was unknown, ants ate through flashlight batteries, mosquitoes feasted on every exposed inch of skin, and newsmen slept four to a room. The water supply broke down immediately, so everyone went dirty and stank. The only drink available was lukewarm beer.

The main search area lay 240 mi. to the north and encompassed 1,400 sq. mi. of swamp and jungle. Governor Rockefeller exchanged his jet for a lumbering Dakota, slowly circling over the endless greenish-brown curtain under which his son had vanished. He and Mary took turns peering down with field glasses, scanning the treetops ... hoping.

Those of us using helicopters got a closer view--occasionally a little too close for comfort. Whenever our pilot spotted what could pass for a clearing near a few huts, we went down.

The scene was always the same. Thick, steamy heat that engulfed you like a moist towel. Branch huts built on stilts over reeking, dark brown mud. A wide, cautious circle of people staring at us as we climbed from our machine. The Asmats were totally naked--not so much as a loincloth among them. The men fingered flintstone knives and whipped 12-ft. spears with serrated shark's-teeth tips. Some of the women nursed a baby on one breast and a piglet on the other.

Our helicopter didn't seem to astonish them unduly. Other things did. I created a sensation by lighting my pipe with a match; you could hear them drawing their breaths in wonder. We always broke the ice by passing out the standard currency of the region: sticks of tobacco that could be smoked or chewed or bartered for something else.
Sergeant Gerig spoke a few words of their language and used gestures to explain the purpose of our visit. We were looking for a bearded young man wearing glasses. His hands indicated hair on his face and rings around his eyes. He pointed to his own fair skin--a white man. Had they seen such a man?

The Asmat warriors exchanged a few rapid grunts. Then one of them--usually a headman with a boar's tusk stuck through his nose--replied. Yes, they had heard of such a man, but they hadn't seen him. He was agai, agai--farther away--which might mean anything from 1 to 100 mi.

The Asmats were quite friendly, particularly after we'd distributed the tobacco. But you couldn't help noticing the skulls. Some yellow with age, others gleaming white and fresh. Most of them displayed on poles outside the huts, but a few lying around casually, like household utensils. I also noticed that Gerig kept his leather gun holster in a handy position.

Later I asked him about those skulls. "I thought you'd outlawed headhunting around here?"

"Oh, certainly. Only the nearest police post is 140 mi. away. So we cannot control very well. Also, mijnheer," he added, "we have no way of telling which skull belonged to a slain enemy or somebody's grandfather who died of old age. They often keep a relative's skull. Like--how do you say?--for memento."

We whirred from one swampy clearing to another, handing out tobacco, always asking the same questions, always getting the same maddening agai, agai for an answer. The white man had been seen ... found ... farther inland ... farther down the coast ... anywhere except the place we were at.

The other search teams were getting the same elusive reply. We saw the crocodiles basking on the mud banks, the skulls grinning at us from the village poles, the incredible clouds of sparrows rising like locusts from the trees, and felt our hopes fading.

They revived briefly when a patrol craft fished an empty gasoline can from the sea 120 mi. down the coast. But they found no sign of Michael, and it still isn't certain that the can was his.

Gov. Nelson Rockefeller held a press conference in Merauke. He looked as if he hadn't slept for days and seemed totally exhausted. But his quiet courtesy never cracked. He was one of the bravest men I'd ever seen. He thanked the Dutch and Australian governments--and all of us--for our help. Then he patiently answered a barrage of questions. Then he flew back to New York.

After 10 days the Dutch authorities called off the search. They were satisfied, they declared, that Michael had either drowned or been taken by a shark or crocodile. Most of the press corps pulled out.

Only a few of us stayed on, held by a lingering doubt about the correctness of the official verdict. It was mostly instinctive--we had no real clues to go by--but we had the distinct feeling that this case wasn't as closed as some people wanted us to believe.

Only after the turmoil of the search had died down did it become apparent that a large number of people shared our opinion. There was, in fact, a sharp split between Dutch officialdom and the local white civilians as to young Rockefeller's fate. Those who lived in the area--resident missionaries, medical men, traders--were convinced that, whatever else may have happened, Michael had not perished in the water.

The first person to confirm my private doubts was Dr. Ary Kemper, who specialized in tropical medicine and had lived in the Asmat for 11 years.

"That young man was a powerful swimmer, and with those floats on his back he could not have drowned," said the doctor. "Sharks and crocodiles? Yes, there are plenty. But, you know, in all the years here I have never heard of one human being attacked. The natives swim and fish without fear of them. They just don't seem to be man-eaters. Not along this part of the coast. Believe me, I would have learned of any such attack."

"Well, what do you think happened?" I asked.

"I think he reached land. And I think he was killed there," Kemper said grimly. "By the Asmats. Perhaps for his head. Or perhaps he was eaten. One man alone--unarmed--wandering on this coast, now that is risky."

"Then why are the government people so adamant about him being lost at sea?"

Kemper grinned wryly. "Because they don't wish the world to know that they are not in control of the entire territory. Officially there is no head-hunting, no cannibalism, no tribal warfare, you understand? No white man is ever murdered. And such an important person--a billionaire's son--this must not have occurred! It would look very bad at the United Nations, you understand?"

I understood even better after talking to a Dutch administration officer. Over half a bottle of jonge genever he gave me a view of Michael that had not hitherto been voiced.

"He was a likable boy, very courageous and sincere, but sometimes very foolish. He came to the Asmat and offered six, seven steel axes per skull for his museum. He offered this to natives who hardly know any metal. Six steel axes--why, gottverdomme, that is a fortune! They could buy two wives for that price!"

The official went on to describe how--as soon as word of the offer spread--head-hunting flared up along the entire coast. "I don't think Rockefeller realized what he was doing," he went on. "But some tribesmen actually approached me for permission to go raiding--`only one night, two night, no more.' And when I refused, they went just the same. They just couldn't resist that offer."

Although the administrator didn't say so, his implication was that Michael had perished in trouble of his own making. To the Asmat warriors a head was a head; they couldn't have known that the half-naked white man on the shore was the source of those steel hatchets.

The more locals I interviewed, the stronger grew the impression that Michael had indeed been slain rather than drowned. One missionary priest, Father Jan Smit--who knew Rockefeller well--told me he had actually seen a warrior wearing the young man's shorts.

Father Smit, who was himself killed by the Asmats in 1965, was the first person who pinpointed the murder scene for me: the costal village of Otsjanep.

The place had a sinister reputation for general violence as well as cannibalism. A French movie team chose it as the location for their epic New Guinea film The Sky Above, the Mud Below, because there they were able to get shots of warriors sleeping with their heads pillowed on human skulls.

Yet during our search operation the Dutch authorities had paid very little attention to Otsjanep--despite the fact that it lay in the area where Michael could have reached shore. Later on they actually barred strangers from the vicinity. Why?

The more I learned about this village the more puzzling the whole matter became. For Michael Rockefeller and his team had done most of their initial research right there! If the Otsjanep tribesmen wished to kill them, they must have missed a dozen earlier opportunities to do so.

Hospitality is a sacred institution among the Asmats. Your worst enemy becomes an honored guest as long as he dwells in your village. Thus the Rockefeller team was sacrosanct just as long as they remained in Otsjanep. As soon as it left, any of them became fair game.

It was Michael's tragic bad luck that he should have reached land just at a point where a fishing party of his former hosts was hunting for sea turtles. They were not a war party, but their long barbed fishing spears were just as deadly for humans.

According to one story, one of the warriors speared the American while he was still in the water. Then the others joined in and dragged their wounded victim ashore to finish him off. They took the head, cooked and ate parts of the body, and buried the remains.

This account, I learned, was based mainly on the boasting of an Otsjanep fight chief named Ajik or Ajim. While the search operation was going on, the men involved kept very quiet about their deed. But as soon as things calmed down, Ajik went around proclaiming how he had killed an "important wizard" of the whites and taken his head, thereby inheriting some of his powers. Simultaneously two other warriors spread the same story, also claiming to be the killers and now possessors of some of Rockefeller's "magic." In evidence one of them, called Fin, allegedly showed Michael's spectacles to his audience.

I could only surmise the reason why the Dutch authorities failed to search Otsjanep. Possibly because the incident of the trigger-happy patrol that had opened fire on a throng of villagers earlier might then have come to light. More probably because the searchers might have had to fight their way in. Either way it would have made a pretty bad impression on the representatives of the international media.

This undoubtedly was what lay behind officialdom's insistence on Rockefeller's death by drowning. They had to cling to that theory in order to avoid having to raid Otsjanep by force. It also accounted for the fact that neither Ajik nor Fin nor any of the other boasters were ever arrested or even interrogated.

The missionaries, who knew their Asmats, took these boasts quite seriously. Father Gerald Hekman of the Evangelical Aid Mission even offered a substantial reward in axes and tobacco to anyone who brought in Michael's skull. There were no takers.
Some rumors, based on second-, third-, or even fourth-hand accounts, had it that Michael was alive, that he was being held captive by one of the coastal tribes, who were now even more isolated and unapproachable than they had been during the Dutch regime.

What made these stories so tantalizing was both their elusiveness and their persistence. Plus the fact that similar episodes have occurred in New Guinea.

During the W.W. II fighting in the Pacific, the Eilanden River region marked the most southerly point of advance for the Japanese armies. When U.S., Australian, and Dutch troops finally recaptured Merauke in 1945, thousands of Nipponese soldiers fled into the Asmat. The Japanese War Office wrote them off as dead. But an amazing number of them were very much alive. Most of their comrades either perished in the jungle or by Asmat spears. A few survivors, however, were taken in by the villagers and treated kindly for reasons it took them years to understand.

The Asmats believe that odd-looking and unusual people offer protection against their main dread--the adat, or forest demons. They like to keep such creatures in their villages as good-luck charms because the adat won't approach a settlement that harbors them. To the Asmats some of the Japanese must have looked very odd indeed.
They were kept as part prisoners, part guests. They were given wives and whatever food the tribe possessed--but carefully watched and never allowed to leave a certain area. The Asmats often keep their own albinos in similar captivity as mascots against the jungle spirits. As the years passed, the Japanese grew accustomed to tribal life and made no serious efforts to escape. Those who did usually owed their getaway to the confusion of a tribal war. Others died in the villages without the outside world's ever learning of their existence.

There was thus at least a possibility of Rockefeller's survival some-where in the Asmat wilderness. But until one of the rumors came up with some concrete geographical data there was no chance for a follow-through.

Then, in October, 1968, a very tough-looking individual who called himself John Donahue walked into the New York office of Argosy magazine, demanding to see the editor. The executive editor was Milt Machlin, a chunky globe-trotting adventurer who had nosed around the remotest corners of the Pacific.

To him Donahue confided that he, personally, had seen Michael Rockefeller alive only 10 weeks earlier! What's more, he had talked to him.

The man began his story by admitting that he was a wanted criminal, a professional smuggler and gunrunner. He certainly looked the part. On his most recent operation he and two companions stopped at a small island called Kanaboora, one of the Trobriand group lying off the northeastern tip of New Guinea. There, Donahue claimed, he met a half-crippled white man with a long sandy beard, whom the natives were keeping in their tribal council house.
The bearded man, who was wearing only a native lap-lap, peered at them shortsightedly, then introduced himself: "I am Michael Rockefeller. Can you help me?" According to Donahue he related how he had reached the Asmat shore after diving overboard and stumbled through the mangroves for three days, sleeping in the trees at night. He broke both his legs when a branch snapped under him, and lost his glasses. Eventually he was captured by a party of Trobriand Islanders, a seafaring tribe that often made long coastal journeys. They had brought him back to their home island and kept him there, believing him to be an "important sorcerer."

Donahue couldn't do anything for him at the time. He would have run the risk of drawing attention to his illicit cargo. But perhaps Machlin could.

Most magazine editors would have treated the story as just one more yarn spun by a roving crank. But Milt Machlin was not the average editor. He asked for names and details--and got them. Without quite believing the tale, he assured himself that Donahue had actually been to New Guinea recently and that he really was some sort of outlaw. Where exactly was that island? "About a hundred and fifty degrees east longitude by around eight degrees south," came the prompt answer.

Machlin was no armchair journalist. He knew enough about the region and the background of Rockefeller's disappearance to realize that--while wildly improbable--the story was not impossible. Donahue wanted neither a reward nor a fee for his information. Why, then, would he bother to make up such a saga?

As Machlin put it: "There was only one way to check out Donahue's story--go out and see." Whatever the outcome, the investigation would make a splendid article for his magazine. [It did.]

For a start the editor discovered that Donahue had made a mistake about the name of the island. There was no "Kanaboora" at the location given. But there was a minute speck called Kanapu in almost precisely that position.

Machlin got there by jet liner, prop plane, and diesel schooner, only to discover that the tiny islet was uninhabited. The searchers found old campfire sites, a couple of abandoned palm shelters, but not a living soul. Some natives had obviously been there, but they had gone. Where to and who with was anybody's guess.

This was the end of what Machlin dubbed the "Donahue saga." It had served merely to add yet another mystery touch to the Rockefeller enigma.

Rumors concerning Michael Rockefeller continued to surface. Most of them were the usual secondhand legends, long on fantasy and short on facts, all the more difficult to verify because the Indonesian government was busily manufacturing tales of its own, aimed at discrediting the former Dutch administration. One of them had it that the American was actually a CIA agent and that his disappearance had been an elaborately staged fraud designed to plant him in West Irian, where he was now fomenting unrest among the natives.

But in December, 1972, I tracked down an eyewitness account that pushed the whole guessing game back to square one. It came from a veteran Australian island trader named Roy Hogan, who was taking a brief vacation in Sydney before returning to his route. His "run," as he called it, extended into the Arafura Sea from Australian Papua and occasionally included the Asmat coast.
His boat, the 60-ft. Rosemary M., was a former pearling lugger fitted with an improved cargo hold that enabled him to carry anything from copra to light machinery.

The previous month he had visited the Ewta River region in the Asmat. Hogan and his crew--a Chinese and a Papuan--were doing some fishing at a bivouac called Mirinaup.
"Around five in the afternoon we saw a whole bunch of natives coming toward the bivouac," Hogan told me. "We were sheltered behind some scrub, so they didn't spot us until they were almost on top of us. A big bunch--about 30 of 'em--but evidently peaceful because they had women and small children with them. The moment we stood up they stopped dead; they were pretty surprised, judging by the looks on their faces.

"We made peace signs with our palms open--no weapons--and they stood still; kind of hesitant. I got a long, close look at them. And that's when I saw the white bloke."

Hogan raised his hand to forestall my interjection. "I know what you're going to say--he might have been an albino. But I've seen plenty of Asmat albinos, and I'm telling you this fellow was white. First of all, he wore specs--glasses. Then he had straight blond hair, not curly, and a big straggly beard. The Asmats can't grow beards. He was taller than the rest. And he wore a strip of cloth around his waist; the others weren't wearing a stitch between 'em.

"He was staring directly at us, but he gave us no special greeting, no sign of recognition. He just stared like the rest. After a few moments the whole bunch turned away from us, heading back the way they'd come. Well, I was pretty curious and followed them a few steps. That's when some of the bucks turned nasty. I saw them raising those long barbed spears of theirs, shaking them up and down the way they do when they're getting ready to throw.

"That was enough for me. I got back to my mates as fast as I could. We had no guns or anything on us. And that crowd disappeared in the scrub. We never saw them again.

"The funny thing is," Hogan added, "that I never thought of young Rockefeller until we got back to Australian territory, to Port Moresby. I looked up his picture in a newspaper file. And let me tell you--if that geezer wasn't him, it must have been his bloody twin brother!"

When I matched Hogan's account with the mass of similar snippets in circulation, I was struck by two alternative solutions nobody seems to have considered so far.
There may be several other white men living a tribal existence in the remoter regions of New Guinea. This would explain the bewildering change of locale in these stories that had Michael cropping up in places hundreds of miles apart.

The second solution is admittedly the most way-out of all. Those who knew Michael Rockefeller have found it impossible to believe in his prolonged captivity. They reason that anyone as intelligent and enterprising as he would have managed to escape or at least send out a message of some kind.

Quite true--providing he wanted to escape. But there remains the bare possibility that Michael has deliberately renounced civilization. That he decided to make his way in a land where his family's name and wealth counted for nothing . . . where he would be valued for himself alone.

He was, by nature, a passionate outdoorsman, fascinated by the primitive life and constantly drawn toward the wilderness. He could, conceivably, have made friends with the Asmats and become a kind of honorary tribal member. And he must have realized that if the outside world learned of this, they would pressure him into returning to the plastic artificiality he had shaken off.

It is, as stated, a way-out solution. But then, New Guinea is a way-out country. Stranger things have happened there than a billionaire's son's return to nature in the raw.


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 15, 2003
Posts: 3006
From: San Diego, Ca.
Posted: 2005-03-31 10:05 am   Permalink

Heather, the Simon Frasier Library & Vancouver Public Library have copies of T"he Asmat of New Guinea; the journal of Michael Clark Rockefeller." I just checked the VPL website & found:
The Asmat of New Guinea; the journal of Michael Clark Rockefeller, edited with an introd. by Adrian A. Gerbrands.
by Rockefeller, Michael Clark.
New York, Museum of Primitive Art; distributed by the New York Graphic Society, Greenwich, Conn., 1967 [i. e. 1968]
Call #: 709.951 R68a
Subjects Asmat (Indonesian people)

Art, Asmat -- Catalogs.

Description: 349 p. illus. (part col.), fold. col. map, plates (part col.), ports. (part col.) 33 cm.

Notes: "With ... [the author's] ethnographic notes and photographs made among the Asmat people during two expeditions in 1961; documented by a pictorial and descriptive catalogue of the objects he collected."

Bibliography: Bibliographical references included in "Notes" (p. 39)

Added Author: Gerbrands, A. A. (Adrianus Alexander), 1917- ed.
Museum of Primitive Art (New York, N.Y.)

Dynix#: 207679

Copies in: 1

Copies available to request: 1

Requests: 0

It's in the Central Branch's Fine Arts Ref. L5 Compact Shelving Collection, call # 709.951 R68a.
Rev. Dr. Frederick J. Freelance, Ph.D., Th.D., D.F.S

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Travellin' Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 05, 2004
Posts: 227
From: Vancouver, Canada
Posted: 2005-03-31 10:56 am   Permalink

Woopie! Thanks Freddie.

You know, I checked the VPL a few weeks ago and came up with nothing. I actually put in a request for an interlibrary loan for it! Guess I must have typed in 'amsat' instead of 'asmat' or somesuch... because you're right, its there.

So turns out it was right under my nose. Good think I have TCers like you to give me a smack and point me in the right direction. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to look into it FF! Your efforts are much appreciated!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 13, 2007
Posts: 2105
From: Atlantis/Basque Country/Spain/Mexico
Posted: 2009-03-30 10:06 pm   Permalink

He went hunting for primitive art and became hunted himself, a trophy, the irony! Stranger than fiction... My favorite possible ending is that he choose to stay with the Asmats and live like a savage, renouncing to his billionaire's destiny. He was looking for romance and adventure...
Any news on this mystery?

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 05, 2011
Posts: 1637
From: Long Beach, CA via Dallas, TX
Posted: 2014-02-23 08:54 am   Permalink

The Smithsonian Magazine had an article on this recently. Its from a new book coming out in March, "Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art".


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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Dec 31, 2005
Posts: 697
From: Suburban San Diego (The Drawer)
Posted: 2014-02-23 11:11 am   Permalink

Thanks for posting the link tikilongbeach.
I'm really looking forward to getting the book when it's released.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 20, 2008
Posts: 321
From: Port Saint Lucie, FL
Posted: 2015-10-29 4:10 pm   Permalink

If you have Netflix, The Search for Michael Rockefeller is available for streaming. My wife has watched it, but I'll need to wait until I have a free night to watch.


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