Banda Neira

Banda Neira is one of several volcanic islands that form the Banda Archipelago. The term archipelago includes island chains or they can be clusters of islands set in a sea or other designated and named body of ocean water. Located in a cluster of islands set in the Banda Sea, south of Maluku, the area is central to a larger geographic region known as Indonesia, which consists of over 17,000 islands.

The Bandanese, a tribal people, slowly advanced in numbers by staying mostly hidden from the outside world, except for contact with other tribes on neighboring islands outside of their archipelago. For 8,000 years or more, the Bandanese subsisted on the bounty of the sea, on natural edible vegetation, and they began to grow crops. Somewhere in their history, they encountered other tribes that had tools or utensils that they had not crafted themselves. Rather, they had traded for those things by sharing something on their island with outside traders. That something, mostly was some form of spice.

It is common for an isolated land to produce flora and fauna that are unique in all the world. On the Banda islands, a spice known as nutmeg was unique. The Bandanese, ever distrustful of outsiders, likely accepted help from neighboring tribes to get their nutmeg to a larger market (Japan, China, and later to Arab traders, who introduced their nutmeg to European customers) via the larger island of Maluku, north of the Banda Archipelago.

For the pots and pans, tools, and forged weapons that they got for their nutmeg, their traded good fortune eventually got a visit from powerful European nation trading companies, the fabled East India Companies. The Portuguese were first, then, the Dutch, and finally, the British. During these times, the Bandanese fought the Europeans and lost. By disease, combat, murder, and slavery, the tribal population dwindled, but it did not extinguish.

Whereas a strong market for spices drove national interest, heightened trade, and immoral behavior toward third world people in the 15th century, what about today? Keep an eye and ear open on what your country is doing to carve out a monopoly or a controlling interest in rare earth metals (for computer chips) and lithium (for batteries in electric vehicles).

One of God’s Ten Commandments given to the Hebrews on stone tablets was, “Do not covet – (anything that belongs to your neighbor).” Covet means to yearn to possess, to make yours what was his or hers. But, cooperative trading is OK, unless you cheat the owner or take advantage of his or her limited knowledge of the value of their trade good in your world.

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