« The Generation Why Podcast

Michael Rockefeller - 491


November 19, 1961. Netherlands, New Guinea. Michael Rockefeller, son of former US Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, went on an expedition to New Guinea to study the Asmat peoples and to collect art from them. On November 19. 1961 he disappeared after his canoe overturned. With him was a Dutch anthropologist named René Wassing who was rescued hours later. Did Michael Rockefeller drown? Or did something far more sinister happen to him?

Carl Hoffman

Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art 


Get bonus content from Generation Why at: patreon.com/generationwhy

Listen ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App. https://wondery.app.link/generationwhy.

See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
From wondering identified him, I'm doing good, justin But how are you doing I'm doing good thoughts getting close to hollowing so were in gear is a little bit might do a few creep. Besides. If you want to call them that yeah hours, I do some episodes that are more mysterious, but just in case
does halloween rank on your hollow please list so use be July. Fourth was number one in holloway was number two totally, you use the light up. All kinds of fire works in deed. Get these parties going is a lot of fun. but then you know you, you said Down and you get dogs and- and you have your own issues and becomes around that fireworks and explosions going all night just isn't as far as it used to be so, I would say: hollowing Now my number one and for the July is actually way down the list, because I just wanna get sleep at night, not hear somebody shutting off imedi inside of a pressure cooker, oh wait that was me or in a mailbox or in a mailbox. Yeah halloween has been at the top of my a holiday list for a long time. I just love the crew, activity? I love sing, all the its dress up or adults and
I dress up almost every year, although this year I dont think I have a costume so I don't. I'm gonna, make a decision here in the next week or so time is getting away from me here. Well Erin. If you need some motivation, I do have a costume and I will have a costume contest with you and people can vote on which, when they liked better, maybe we To do that. I would put it on social media, and people can see what we look like in costumes doing other thing to add just in is that there is a graphic designer named Becky, who we work, but recently and she did a lovely design, I guess you could say caricatures of us and now a shirt it's on a hoodie, etc. I think people should check this out lot of fun. I love She drew you. I think it looks amazing, but people go out to Jan my pod. Dot com and check it out. I think they'll be surprised. It's really caused something.
the different than what we normally have up in the shop so tonight's cases, an inch sting one and it was one I chose it, but after suggests, thing it to you. I remember you said that you are interested in doing it too. I asked him My mom about this case- and She said. Oh yeah, I remember when I was a teenager. This was talked about, but it wasn't about in a way of old that happen and here is a news report on it because pack, in those days they did the internet. They didn't have the same type of news coverage that we do today, where we have ensign as do anything in the world. So when she, was a teenager. It was like a folk, lore tail is almost day a method, like what this real, you know, or is this an urban legend anyway? it's about guy who had travelled to an island and had
eaten by cannibals, so with that What are we talking about tonight tonight? We're talking about disappearance of Michael rockefeller in nineteen sixty one while he was in new guinea, so most of you ve, probably heard the name rockefeller or raw childs or any of these rich established families, but the rockefellers were one of the most or are one of the most powerful establish. And influential of families in the world and in the history you wanna talk old money- it's almost unquantifiable big oil, industrialization banking politics philanthropy conservation, real state, the rockefellers have their toes and almost every industry, and that's why this case is so talked about- is because
of this last name, rockefeller, so This family had originally a mast. stoning fortune from the can oil and gas industry way back in the eighteen, hundreds, their wealth and empty? continued spur from generation to generation and their die. Misty is still alive and well today, some estimates are the family? worth over three hundred and fifty billion dollars, you on, is only worth two hundred and fifty two. If you care to know they The origins of the family can be traced back to rhineland it's a region of germany and Johan and peter a feller day, granted to the united states back and seventeen twenties eventually settled in new jersey of all places. They became
plantation owners at that time. The fur family member to achieve notoriety was william avery rockefeller, sir here. He was known as devil bill. He was born. eighteen ten and he was known for being a lumbermen travelling salesman. Conner, and alleged rapist. He died disgraced on the run, and under a pseudonym at the age of ninety five in illinois. t tino six, which that's a pretty long life to live on the run, but the and why we're talking about devil bill is because He was with a woman named eliza davison one of his many wives and they have six children, one of which John D, rockefeller senior. You probably heard that name who would go on
who co found the standard oil company and become the wealthiest american of all time from then on, the rock fellers influence became almost untouchable by any other, you know family or politician. They were response. for the construction of many of america's ike. Nick landmarks, end educational institutions, they were once in control of chase manhattan bank chase as we know it today and our we will begin with Michael clark rockefeller. He was the great grandson of the big oil daddy john rocket, or senior, and the son of former new york state governor and vice president nelson rockefeller, this is a very poor for family in every single member of it is very privileged and well taken care of, and is going to become going too
hurried millions and become something theirs other way around it. Just in I know, if we don't say, this will get messages, but there are those I'm or they're thinking right now that if you're talking about cut fellers. This is a fact that we could spend multiple apis. talking about given all of their dirty if they were into the way worker, retreated were treated or how people were killed. While they were for them, etc. If anyone is curious about this family, the dark side, this family- there is a lot information out there I wouldn't, I urge you to look it up. If that's and interests of yours to look it up, we're talking about specific rockefeller, family member. So we're not going to go deep. With this other stuff, but I am acknowledging it here that there is definitely a dark side to this family. Are you don't get to the top? Without
a few cities have skeletons in your closet yeah I would say, look it up. Just even typing coal mining rockefellers. It's not pretty. It's not good, now So we have michael see rockefeller. born in nineteen thirty eight he was the fifth, I'll of the former new york governor. And u s vice president nelson and the grandson of john d rockefeller he had when sister Mary and they attended the prestigious philips exeter academy in new Hampshire. He accepts that wrestling and became a student senator because you know at the school there already teaching you how to govern people Michael trial. extensively and grew up described as quiet and a bit artists. He went on to graduate from harvard, as we all do, right with degrees both history and economics,
father, nelson, worse and added are collector, but regardless he expected Michael to follow in the footsteps of the family and pursue a career in business or finance, because that's what they do, they control money he had, a lot of weight and expectation from His family's dynasty, weighing on shoulders. Nineteen sixty michael spent six months has a: u s: army private, before joining, expedition. So I guess the military wasn't a good fit for my I'm not even sure why or how he joined or how his or why his family even allowed it. Maybe they thought he needs some discipline. Butter he ends the wing on an expedition with the harvard peabody museum of archaeology and acknowledging the experts
she was organised by robert robert gardener. He was a filmmaker that Michael had met at harvard they were doing a study on the Donnie people and they were filming, final days, ritual tribal warfare for a documentary called dead birds. Michael, was the sound guy he became very engaged with the culture and the art and, of course, being a very privileged rockefeller kid. He, wanted to get out more and see more life around the world He was really into his father, primitive art, collection, yeah. This Where We in twenty twenty to look back and think while people back in the day would enter into areas where other people live right who those
from the great cities would look at and say: oh there primitive people, but they had different cultures right just because you don't live in a skyscraper, doesn't mean that your somehow not civilized said Decay did were what have you, but you know back in those days. People who were privileged enter into those areas and oftentimes exploit them. They did take the from there they could. They could harm the people. We know that things were raided in certain areas, but you know it's time. Goal is, I guess, maybe innocently the way he looks at it. Discovering new people and he's excited by what he sees all this, this art and all these that he sees while he's moving around as part of this recording effort in over dead bird I remember when I was a kid ripley that are not was a thing and First of all, museums were either
the tallest man or the shortest woman, or it was artifacts from tribe or faraway native lands. Things that the the west turn. Culture would never lay eyes upon because he would go there and take photos or even take the artifacts and bring them home, and I think that was a big deal back nineteen sixty seventies and up until today, but I think now we're we're gonna look it. These situations with her been eyes and understand how problematic and exploitive they are. But this gets him thinking about adventures justin right so eventually he leaves this expedition and goes on? Scouting break so can I go to the southern part of new guinea, which is where another tribe is the asthma people now the way he
scribes. This situation, as he feels like people are getting out more. There seem more the world that the real frontier out there. going away because people covering more more of the world, and so there not much left to discover. So he wants to feel like he's out there and is discovering something learning about a new area that no ones two or know as much about the first human to lay eyes upon something. So he is in communication with family. He writes home, and one of the things he wrote was the as Matt is like a huge puzzle with them creation ceremony and art style, forming the pieces and obviously There are what he calls violations of the norm of western culture. But you know This is someone who is well educated, but at the time doesn't understand really what he's getting into here in others,
mostly about him having an adventure and passive you getting some art to bring home, just thinks, he's an explorer and everyone be welcoming there. before we go on just him. We're gonna be talking about. The ass met people in new guinea and there isn't just one group of them now right. There are multiple groups, and it depends on whether located so there variations, but also, I gotta get into the whole history of the asthma tribe, but we will we have a lot of details that are pertinent to the story as of two thousand and four. They estimate the asthma with a population of seventy thousand arts unclear how many were around in the nineteen sixties, but it's probably up to forty two, fifty thousand at that time As of nineteen sixty one there had only been hand
full of dutch missionaries and government officials who had communicated but the asthma and maybe at the asthma people had ever seen a west her somebody with skin. They have different beliefs that anyway, outside of their island is a spirit of one of their end esters late. They think that this is all there is at that time. These outside people they don't really know of their people or not they, depending on the some of them think they're ghosts because of their white skin. Some of them think that there are threat because they had some run in with them, so there is different, kids and opinions, but for the most part there linking this could be a spear. Or a ghost now you have talked about my his dad nelson and how he was into the arts. Well, Michael,
his dad had made him a trusty of the museum of primitive art. How do you like that? So? He thought I can go on this adventure here and collect a bunch of art and then we would have the biggest exhibition of asthma- art ever seen, so he he understand what he's looking for right, he's thinking about collecting asthma art. our shields, bitch pole says: they're known spears, canoes paddles bamboo horns all kinds of things and he thinks I can bring all the the back and will have an amazing, exhibit show people who never would have heard this place level I'm, seeing any of the artwork from there He doesn't go alone now, Michael I'm going with a dutch government anthropologist known as renee vote. sing and they will end up going down in visiting all of
he's tribes. They spent three weeks visiting up to thirteen villages, barter in trading all kinds goods along the way in November nineteen sixty one they retire to the city of agates too. hear more supplies, so we ve talked a little bit about the ass Oh, but obviously, if Michael is going down and trading for some other stuff there really in to elaborate and intricate art, and would carvings and all kinds of different, things that they uses either tools or spiritual relics or even weapon but what were they most known for an according to westerners. At the time they were known for had hunting, which I don't what you just in bed, you would think that would put people on alert.
Be cautious about interacting with the asthma people, given that obviously which barriers. There are cultural barriers who knows we are dealing with here right on both sides. I Boys knew what had Hunting meant pretty much when you did decapitate your enemy, but it's It's kind of weird that we still use that term today in hunting for jobs robson ahead. Hunter will be more or less sir somebody that seeks out applicants for emissions and I'm dislike. Why are we still calling this that their anyways bass Matt had some very taboo cultural practices to western culture, and they did. Taken: cannibalism where they live it was very hard and remote area very different to access it was made up of mainly forest title, swamps, freshwater.
swamps and mangroves They were heavily influenced by the availability of the natural resources found by the forests and bodies of water diet actually consisted. Alot of starch from de sago palm tree and grubs and beetles fish forest game, whatever else that the forest and the waterways would provide nay os, gather all of their materials for shelter there carvings and boats weaponry, from these natural resources and they kind of live in sync, with the lad. Mom to get away from our sponsor sleep number, while the weather outside might be getting frightful. I will say that sleeping on my sleeve number bed, every night, some I look forward to something that helps my back hopes my sleep last night,
keep score, was eighty. How do I know this because I used the sleep iq app that controls my bed and gives me all my sleeping stats slick numbered not gives me a wonderful bed to sleep on, but they also give me a lot of advice on how to get better restful sleep at night. You can adopt some small bedtime habits that will help you sleep when it's too warm or too cold. Some of these tips are take a warm shower before bed or eating cooling foods on warmer nights, aid at it couple say one of them: sleeps too hot, while the other sleeps too cold, and that's where sleep number comes in can discover the nuth climate. Three sixty smart bed see only smart bed in the world that actively cools warms and effort, accurately response to both you and your significant other, the climate three sixty smart bed, warms your feet and actively draws he'd away from your body. Dickie be cool, see, stay asleep, longer and deeper. Why choose proven quality sleep from sleep number, because to be your best every day you need proven quality sleep every night discovers, but
offers now for a limited time at your sleep numbers store or sleep number doc? slash jan. Why you had mentioned how the asthma considered the strain. There's that showed up to be superman Draw beings like westerners right because there weren't used to seeing white men and they believe that interaction with spirits was a normal aspect of their life and life and death worthy. pillars of their culture, but I dont know argue: that's a pillar of many cultures, but course. Everyone has their own unique, take on it. Now they considered when there was a death of an adult and their tribe they thought it was caused by an enemy or a jealous spirit. So, taking ahead was seen as an actor revenge and atonement for it. Deceased relative. This was a way for them to make things right and help release their sole as it were, and they even considered the death of an adult by
illness or natural causes too, because enemies. So it's not just somebody died in warfare or somebody died because you know an animal killed them or whatever it was any death. So it's, I guess it's that's pretty violent. When there taking a life for a life and even when came to aid ritual psych coming over age, the as Matt had a creation myth that involves a young man. Killing is older, brother, take his head, placing it against the growing of another young man which has said feed and nourish the young man's transit, into adulthood and he comes the name and identity of the deceased. This myth, teaches the males how to head hunt how to butcher a human body and how to he's the score too. New men from boys. This is through
really documented by a lot of missionaries and and miss sony in museum, though this is what they believe and I think, it's pretty reckless for anyone, specially Dutch missionaries or government official to go visit this. This group of people I don't really understand why there walking around with a group of people that this their belief system. This is their culture. I would just assume leave them alone, but that's how I think. If you look up as bat online, you are likely to see a picture of a bishop pull. This is spelled b. I asked J, it's a twenty foot all told him. It was made to avenge and honour ancestors They say when it was completed. It would trigger a new round of had hunting rates. Now these asthma, poles were
highly sought after one? the as Matt were learned about by westerners, who were into collecting are facts and art. So what they would do is they ve take blood of the victims? They would rob it into the pool all and that would signify the completion of the spirit within the bishop pole. The people would leave the poles in the say, go fields too broad, which would then apparently fertilize the earth, and then there were the and that would signify thee we share the process of the life cycle and the dutch were com. Tackling this group of people since, like this, teen twenties not on a regular basis, but it was really by the nineteen these that regular contact had been established. A catholic missionaries were try, to dissuade the asthma from cannibalism in head hunting and training,
encourage them- or maybe some people would say, convert them to healthier practices like oh well, you might eat this flesh, but we can eat away for instead, the body of Christ, we're have you for ways to try to get them to stop their practices. But again this isn't. Again, I would not go there and try to get anywhere to believe my beliefs, especially a group like this, because that's a wide spectrum to get someone to turn from this belief? To my belief- and I I would just assume leave them alone. Well, because there's this regular contact during the fifties, there is a very significant mould and the happened in nineteen fifty seven there was an intertribal massacre between two asmat villages. One was the oxygen at the tribe and the other one was the o mata sap tribe and the dutch
Only your government learned about this and they tried to stop it. They got in the middle of this conflict and well, let's just say it, didn't, go well, because there were some misunderstandings and the dutch ended up a firing upon the origin of the tribe. And they killed four of their war leaders. So this confirmed the asthma, they didn't know what happened, because at least up to that point they didn't have a real problem with the dutch colonial government, but after that, the ass of the oxygen up, they went back into the jungle and they thought o something happened here that as disrupted the balance, so there are thought, was we need to take more heads? Basically, it's not exact, revenge its? We need to do this. bang to bring back balance so its view much a a belief, system it's not based on you.
wronged me and I need to do harm upon you, it's harm, hat and then I need to do this thing to bring back balance. It was in nineteen sixty two that and don't You took over administration of western new guinea New government officially condemned many of the asthma. Ceremonies and rituals are the rule. in catholic priests, bishops missionaries would continue to visit the region and to to greece, vitalized them make them less taboo, essentially try to westernize them in their own way. The catholic church a night Seventy three and american anthropologist, Tobias he bomb founded the act, Matt museum of culture and progress in the town of agates, This is some in south pop. Why it's to help them, They local asthma people fall
her and maintain a sense of pride in importance in their cultural heritage, so they told them focus more on your woodworking in art and stop killing each other is sort of the over searching message. They tried to convey here right what what are they focused on these rituals and hunting in the cannibalism or focus on their art and there is some to be said about this just enough, if you're late, people know hey this art, you're doing is amazing. You make them feel good right and they think We need to do more of this because its having a positive effect, these people are happy meet with us, and so I understand how this would affect their culture, because at some point the canopy resumed the head hunting. It fades away been talking, awhile, Aaron ma. I guess we need to pick up where we left off on november seventeen my birthday,
nineteen sixty one Michael rockefeller and rene laughing They were sailing down there, two companions with them they're going the coast of the ira, for a sea to return the town yeah. This is it. and where the arts Jeanette tribe is. This is in southern asthma He was very remote. it was only known to a single priest, so not exactly apply swear. People have visited that much Michael and renee were in a forty foot, dugout canoes and there teenage guides accompanied them in a double pontoon they were a proxy at least three miles from shore at the mouth of the batch river and there Boats were caught in a cross current or rip tied. If you want to call it that
water actually capsized their boats. So here they are miles from shore. The two go boys that were their guides? This is worth live, so they just swarmed ashore to get help. Does there that's what they do, yeah they bent their whole lives swimming in the river, so aka feller, advancing their sea How far out they are and they're wondering like? Did those guys make it are they going to find help for us so they're out there? You know holding onto their capsize canoe for ever. There have therefore, like a day yeah well, that's explained this just because they don't know of those boys even made it to shore, but they, of course they did, but they aren't going to get help right away.
I mean what we do understand from all the history of this is that these boys made it to shore but then had to go through literally mud for hours to reach the town of agates, but You know these two men holding on to these capsid, this capsized boat, they don't know what's happening- it is ours, go by. They probably get more and more nervous, because even if these boys do get help if it's taken them forever to get help its take forever for that help to be. organize and to come back out for them anymore, their lives are on the line so now november nineteenth two days later, psych eight, a m sons come up. Michael rockefeller, who was in pretty decent shape, in our he. He was a ressler back and harvard, and I think you did in two. So he's not a push or
decides he's gonna try to make it to shore, and he, actually gets too de gas tanks- and you know, puts his belt around it. That's gonna give him buoyancy. It's almost like a life jacket kinder, damn he said two renee. I think I can make it work, eggs. He can make it, and I think, also he's worried about where they're going to drift to burmese worried heading out to sea at some point, but when they first sized air, and there were a few miles out. they didn't realize they had floated additional like ten to twelve mile. So there s did it around thirteen too fourteen miles from the shore line. Now I don't know if I could have made that first distance with just you know the few miles from the shore much less fourteen miles, but Michael was in shape and he did have
gas tanks to keep em up. So you know I'm thinking this. is kind of a hold my beer moment, but its past here he swam to shore, but what have divorcing, while he continued, voting for a while eventually the dutch official, we were able to rescue him. Yet was spotted by planes and they were able to rescue him by nelson and Mary Michael's parents, you don't they on their son found, so they hired people to fly air lanes helicopters to get in ships. They wanted no stone left on and they have the resources to do this. So one of the people whose with his parents. I was it it's official in new guinea said you know if he made to shore. I think that the people there would help him I mean after all, day
add local guides, and there is no reason for anyone to harm him. So, if made it shore the people, would likely help them out. Although, like you said the apparently, people they had been visiting. Well there, We been known by a single priest. So when it comes to to it. They were lesser known people of the asthma, to the outsiders. Exactly endure this time during his disappearance and they're doing search efforts well dutch government and the rockefeller family there try? to save face there. I wish to put a cat on some of the media, which is makes this whole story much more serious and then there is this. You know allegation of a cover up, because this rich family member has gone missing and its instead
Finally, a mark on both the dutch government and the rockefellers that this event hat so they're trying to prevent people from knowing about it. But when it sir a feller that goes missing. They're going to it's gonna get reported everywhere. Well, they weren't sure about what effect this would have on the ass people. This could be a real problem in that area? Will they will end of searching for Michael fur, almost nine days and deed ouch interior minister said there, is no longer any hope of Michael rockefeller being found alive and the rockefeller is and leaving the island after two weeks. the searches completely called off, There was no trace of Michael his body ask hands any clothing, nothing. This is when, because there facts to lean on for what have
to Michael rockefeller, people start to create rumors and one of the things that comes out is maybe Michael, went to the ilo. And because he was tired of as they call it we're spoon lifestyle and down there actually a picture taken in Jeanne sixty nine that shows a naked white man with the hazmat. some people would say. Oh well, maybe that's proof that he ended up joining up with them, whether by force or because he changed his ways. He decided to join them escape the the confines of his normal life or peace, being held under duress, strangely enough, this picture I've seen as from footage taken by I photographer malcolm Kirk, who is sent to the region by milk mac and who we talked about earlier and this
mercury is called the search for Michael rockefeller, because macklewain didn't Anything with this footage, apparently me accordingly, article on the daily mail, which I know people laugh, but they say that this footage at around for forty years in american warehouse but I assume that if he found Michael or something to that effect. That would have been the point of his story, so I'm assuming he knew that wasn't Michael one! That's what some people are saying, is the person who made the dock an entry he clay was that he doesn't think it was rockefeller, but he's like a lot of people, never noticed this man in the footage girl like backward, was why, But I don't know how much this comes down to back. Then you can I look around third a little bit and I'm like okay, okay, okay and and they weren't painted. much with in any way, maybe wasn't the passion at that point that it would have been earlier, but their talk
about fifteen reels of film and sound tapes, sir guess it would be interesting to search for this documentary. But again, I dont think anyone's arguing that this was this man. Seen in this footage is actually Michael rockefeller but they're like its clearly a light skinned person with a beard and that just doesn't fit with the other people, seeing the footage I think there could be an easy explanation of the people that were shooting the film footage. There was one of the crew living in being around the asthma long enough that that's just one of them, so that's how I interpret that the argument make is they say that there are so few seconds of this man in the footage that it's like they didn't notice it they had their private. A lot more fully to this person.
For some reason, because this was shot, nineteen sixty nine if he didn't die if he wasn't killed, then there's that very remote, possibility that it was him, but I would urge people check out this footage. Its cage thing is just dumb. It's really interesting yeah. I guess I mean I know there's this idea that he went out there and became a bit of venture guy in homage to go, learn about new people and collect our but yeah this really doesn't seem likely, but again when it comes to rumours, people just come up with whatever another one is that he had been eaten. I because he was in the river there- he could have been eaten by I could isles, but no one had seen him apparently mean you had this huge search effort and they couldn't figure out what happened, and so they ask renee, boss, and he had an opinion. I guess right. It was. I dont know what and to him by him
certain that he didn't get to shore, even if you're only thirty feet from the shore. You don't stand a chance it's against- that abnormally heavy tied. So it's in his opinion, is its unfortunate, but he probably drowned. He would be, he declared legally dead by nineteen sixty four because of their efforts all the kings, horses, all the kings, men they couldn't find their son ever again. This would go. viral as much as it could back in the night in sixties and this why a man in teenagers would hear about these tribes cannibals and far away lands is, mainly inspired by this story there. even movies cannibal, holocaust or green inferno. Dat I won't say, are based on this story, but very
much were inspired by this story. Because of these rumours of what happened to Michael rockefeller when he attempted to went ashore began. cider going into a remote area where there are try that was virtually unknown to outsiders, who had a very different culture and what can happen So it's this fear and, of course, if seeing green inferno, a nightmare that people conjure up in their heads about what's possible here, so the first. idea here justin is that he didn't. Get to shore I mean that's what renee bossing seem to think back then It sounds possible because if you're say thirty fourteen miles from shore. That's the estimate. Aid can be really difficult. He just think about how much it takes to walk fourteen I was right and just imagine you're in the water which
fear in the water it's a lot more difficult than just walking. Even if you have your buoyancy because as renee, sing said you have to deal with the tide through, so many Instead, there is, even if he's swimming toward sure, he's knocking get to whatever sure he's pointed out here going to end up miles down the way. So I do, sir, with he probably didn't make it to shore, but a lot of people think he could have an that's, because we of situations where people did the unthinkable or rail to account things that seemed improbable, so you have to open up the possibility that he did make it to shore, and there was this: Your thing where people said Michael rockefeller is alive. well and he's been spotted living amongst this. These people right, oh yeah,
again rumour mill, you're gonna, get all kinds of possibilities, and there is also the idea that maybe he was a prisoner, then the other fury that has been put out, is he did drowned in the water, but his body washed up on the shore and will give a little bit more explanation about that theory. Waiting more sense when we talk about the third theory? Well, let's talk about who milk macklewain is He was an american journalist and in Nineteen sixty nine, he traveled to the area because he wanted to learn more about what could have happened to Michael, he wanted to see if the people there good help him understand what happened, because it's been a mystery for all these years, so mac linens publishing a book, the search for Michael rockefeller, He had a theory justin based on his visit there on his research. What did he say happened? He said that
Michael, not only made it to shore but was killed immediately upon arrival likely and nay. Instead sure act of revenge based on that massacre. That happened when they were having. There tribal war and the dutch official. came in and shot and killed four of them, yet the arts, jeanette tribe, yeah. So right, he's thinking well, Michael, was this revenge killing for these four that were killed. What three for five years earlier yeah. If rock I went missing in sixty one, this would have predicted that by about four years yap- and I I hate to put it- way by just going off the brute. quality of some of these people with the people or the family members that were killed in this massacre. Even they'll be around to take
revenge out on Michael rockefeller like, and there was you know that time up to forty two the thousand of them. How do we know that michael is showing on shore in the exact location, where their seeking revenge, like I dont like this guy's theory at all, it's very just just very contrived. Well, you talk for years, my question would be: do they wait for years to complete this cycle? To finish this, Revenge does it take for years now. It didn't seem like it would, I think it's one things where, if you just say you just say: well, obviously, he was killed because of what happened for years earlier. It's kind of life in neat little by want it and it also gives this story, bigger, ending because if you say well, MIKE Iraq feller likely just round, or I know
if you say he was eaten by an alligator crocodile, a shark right have you whatever's in the water with him- that's not as exciting and enter story as it would be You say this: and in revenge. It's almost like their finishing a book. An actual fiction book words, I've got it a better ending. Then he drowned now not to say that's, not what happened, but I'm saying it. seems too easy to go there. Absolutely and make any sense when you really spell it out. Well now to you, I guess, but I think other people because in my reading it does seem like many people subscribe to this notion- and I were venture to say that it's not like there's, no, information that supports it. Again, it's a question of timing for me for years they would take
the persons head? Probably in the same week or what and days not for later and Can I just want to emphasise the point that the people that work during this massacre. This journey this guy he's here generalizing. All of them is one group of people in sight, yeah they're all the asthma, but they were a little disjointed And so you can't say? Oh, one of them more four of them, were murdered so now of them, as a group are going to do this or that it's it's just a it's kinda car racist and shitty one off. so we have to take into account that at the time the dutch government, was telling the rockefeller family look the p, well, here the asmat people. They had nothing to do with your son's disappearance because they were trying to keep the peace, and so when people look at this. They also say: oh wait a minute. They recovering it up right so that feeds
this idea that rockefeller was killed in an act of revenge for this cycle, and sam I'm still not buying it. But again, this is where people come up at this theory. Then we have another. American journalist, Carl Hoffman. This isn't two thousand eight right, yeah this guy, he he added going down to. Ask around the asthma people to see. If he could, the answer of what happened to Michael and as soon as they caught wind of oh you're, another you know another outsider who just asking about Michael, like we ve, moved pass this. They they kind of on him and kicked him out, but I would end up going back and living with them, for, I think, the last five years and he as a whole, about it link it in our notes, but he spent time with them
and of course this is much later, so they don't have the same practices that they did, but even coral hoffman is sort of the opinion that Michael made it to the shore and was killed by these people. He heard stories Other missionaries had heard stories about men killing, Michael rockefeller and then being a school and then if the person got his femur bone and is more or less they were parting out a car they processed his body and dust bert him and then used his parts for staff, and so hoffman much as I've read he and other missionaries kind of got the people the asthma people actually said yeah, we re, remember Michael, but we don't really want to talk about that. We don't really want to bring up this bad time.
Were this bad situation, but yes, you do remember him and yes, we did kill him, but I will say this errand and I I go down there and live with the asmat people for five years. I didn't do any death reporting on this, but because these four had so many bad. Sperience is worth these foreigners, this white people showing up I wonder if they just said, if we tell them what, wanna hear, maybe they'll go away Tell them yeah! Remember that guy and he's dead. Will you stop asking about him. Now I wonder they never saw him I wonder if they never found him and he did just die in the river that day Andy people are alike. Word were done talking to you, so we're just gonna give you an answer now, given these not seem like the type of people to make up a story,
or lie because the hey they're, pretty direct, but at the same time, they are storytellers that is part of their culture. They they continue the stories of their ancestors and they do go an as Carl Hoffman says fight. This is part of their. Culture is retelling their own history, so I dont think it's that far fetched so that they might have made up a story to make these guys go away and then story just pete it over and over again, but I don't know yes, I have a really hard time, believing that Michael could have swam fourteen miles in ripped. Aids and strong currents with alligators and everything else going on or crocodiles. Well, just in one thing that, I think we need to discuss is that Karl hoffman came to some sort of conclusion here too, because in all his research he seemed
discovered that these, as many people did not want to talk about this it this time hurry eventually unfolded accordingly, he learned that Michael rockefeller was killed, I have said before that. I dont really believed that this was tied to this ritual. because it's four years later and look I'm not expert on the as people. I don't know who could be whose like four we're living in Kansas city Missouri. I dont how we understand things the way Carl hoffman. What because he spent so much time there, but I think about time, which was you know, nineteen sixty one, some of these asthma people there. Had not been around westerners, then been around really any white people and I wonder if he were killed. He was I'll just because they were so entire to being visited. Think about the immense power,
share for as many people to change. because of missionaries because of the inner actions with the dutch colonial government. What if they just decided, let's just kill the sky, maybe this guy disappears, people will think twice about coming out here, or maybe some nelson happened. Somebody else, died of natural causes and then out walks, Michael It's like, oh well, I have to create once in the universe, so I'll take his head. I mean there might not have been any more thought put to it than that. Well accord to the stories, though, that Karl Hoffman, with hearing about this, as supposedly very much tied to the massacre at I dont know how much of this is just too try and bridge the bear. is here to help people in some sort of conclusion. In the story I dont know, I believe that Karl half been probably gay.
This is all and really into this as much as anyone could buy. It does seem weird to me again that this would be a four year gap between this massacre and the death of Michael rockefeller, so I am surprised that we just didn't hear well, he show I've been there. I cannot we're tired of all these people come out. Bothering us get rid of them it'll their role. I don't know, but again we look back now. We its fringy that this was going on that people were going there and speaking about primitive people taking their and I don't know it just is. It was a whole different world, then, hopefully we're getting better, but damn billy. I think when we talk about this story, there is something about in. If we just look at the very core of this Laurie forget about the politics in and growing as people and understanding and respecting
people are not rating them. This really come down to taking that stuff into a new frontier. He now something unexplored and seeing what you can come about come away with. You now like what? What do I show the people back home? They won't believe this is. But problematic, but back then Michael's this privileged kid. And die. He probably has no clue he just now. Seize it guided by the art and coming home with something because yeah he was supposed to follow in the economic footsteps. The financial steps of his family but for some reason. His dad nelson, I think caddy a powerful effect. on him and he was very much into art and
He had never seen art as interesting is that of those people in new guinea and each grew porridge tribe. They have, though, the one would worker and if you want that person to create some for you. You have to essentially feed them and take hair of them for the time it takes them to create whatever object, it is that their maker, a word or carving does little things like that about their culture that get way foreshadowed because of the head hunting because of all these other things, but they they are very artistic, they do have other things going on so yeah. It's definitely different way of thinking- and I that's why I have my doubts about any sort revenge killing. That's why I have my doubts about any kind of we want these go away because I don't even know that's how they thought. I think it was
on a much more spiritual level much more. This is the balance, universe and weather. Are they really truly? toward believed that if we do that to this guy it'll make them let them go away. I don't I don't know if that was in there although it or not, I I just have my doubts is an excerpt from my coral hoffman. They can it doesn't make sense. Unless you understand the asthma and ultimately came to this idea that the asthma live and this incredibly rich spiritual world and its world. We can't enter there's no door there's no window tat we can climb, to enter their world. You can say Everything is in their heads, it's not real, but it's real to them and that's what counts. So I think there can be a great cultural dissonance happening, and ultimately I found that mystic, it's too late now, but I'm not
sure this is something that should have ever happened. I know that they make these horror movies. Out of this idea, that you visit a remote area, a remote people and bad things happen, but I don't know. I just question the true intentions people that go into those areas, I think if we nothing else, these movies they almost seemed to have a message of you- should never have gone in there when the unjust- I would say we don't know what happened to my rockefeller nerve botz of theory, There are people who have worked really hard train closed this out, but the longer you look into this case, the more theory you could probably come up with nothing. As an episode of generation? Why subscribe to us unable pack ass spotify, cast box or realistic right now after subscribing please Thus a review. Our website is generally ipod, dot com visit to learn more about events and updates. Justin, and I have
about gas. Mine is free, and an investigative story. Each season is deep dive into a case? went wrong and why justice their podcast is the peripheral, his guests personal stories most would consider taboo, but Some doesn't judge his pocket. Is a safe space where listeners and their stories
my name is. Jim
peter. I reported on some pretty mindless stories, but nothing like what happens and see if they got within eight hundred meters. That is when we would find wanted shops, murder, slavery, human trafficking and staggering environmental crimes. Men have told me that they ve been with stingray hills chains. If you really want to understand crime start where the law, the lamb ends, the outlaws ocean avail, Well now everywhere you get your podcast
Transcript generated on 2022-10-25.