Riau, 6 Tribes, Map
|Banka Tribe 340.000 Islam|
|Bangka Island. Dialects: Urban (Jakarta), North, Central, South, Lom (Belom, Mapor).|
|The Bangka people live on Bangka Island in the South China Sea to the east of Sumatera, specifically in Bangka Regency and Pangkal Pinang Municipality in Bangka-Belitung Province. Indonesians often visit this island because it has beautiful beaches and is easy to reach from the capital of South Sumatera (Palembang). 60% of the inhabitants of Bangka Island are Melayu (Malay) and about 25% are descendants of Chinese, who migrated to the island. The Bangka language is a branch of the Melayu language cluster.|
Bangka Island is known for its large tin mining industry, which was developed during the 18th and 19th centuries. Bangka Island was influenced by the Hindu kingdoms in Indonesia. This is seen in the archaeological remains of various ancient inscriptions, which have been found there. For example, the “Kota Kapur Plaque” has been found, which dates back to 686 A.D. This island is also famous for its pepper plantations, which reached their height of prosperity in 1987. However, in the 1990’s the price of pepper declined drastically and was followed by a drop in the price of tin, which seriously impacted the Bangka.The Bangka people make their living in a variety of ways. Many of the island’s inhabitants are laborers in the tin mines. In addition, many are also farmers, fishermen, and boat builders. They produce many crafts, such as cane work, plaited mats, porcelain, ceramics, and carvings from tin. Many people who live around the cities have become traders and merchants; particularly those of Chinese descent. The lineage of descent is bilateral (traced through both parents). According to tradition, after marriage, the couple does not live near either set of parents. As a result, there are many mixed marriages between the Bangka and other ethnic groups that have come to the area. This outside influence can be seen in their wedding customs. The engagement is initiated by the man’s family giving gifts to the bride. The engagement ceremony is typically done in a berbalas pantun (traditional singing dialogue). Islamic influence is also shown in the public wedding procession which is accompanied by tambourines and drums. Another regional art form is called the Sepintu Segudan. This Bangka drama tells the story of the community’s attitude of gotong royong (mutual assistance).
The majority of the people on Bangka Island are Muslims, particularly those of Melayu descent, whereas those who are of Chinese descent follow Buddhist or Confucius beliefs. The ethnic Bangka people mix Islam and traditional animistic beliefs that still flourish among the community.
|Belide Tribe 22.000|
|The Belide live southwest of Palembang along the Musi River. One of the greatest kingdoms in the region’s history, the Buddhist Empire of Sriwijaya, prospered and grew along the banks of the Musi River in South Sumatera over a thousand years ago. The Sriwijaya Kingdom was a major maritime power that controlled the nearby Straits of Malacca, which is a key waterway between Asia and Europe.The region’s historical background is rich and colorful. The Sriwijaya kingdom practiced a bustling and lucrative trade with ancient China during its era of powerful dynasties, and in 672, the Chinese scholar I Tsing recorded that a thousand monks and scholars could be seen studying Sanskirt in what is now the regional capital of Palembang. However, few relics of this memorable era remain.|
The Belide are not nomadic, but they tend to live in the same area their entire lives. The total Belide people group is comprised of about 20 villages. Traditional houses are made of wood with palm leaf roofs. The houses are built on wooden or brick columns above ground level. Their Belide language is a branch of the Melayu (Malay) language cluster.Approximately 60% of Belide men work as rubber tree tappers or laborers in pineapple plantations. Others work as traders or government employees. The Belide communities are typically lead by three men. A political leader is appointed and paid by the government, and a village chief is chosen by the people. The village chief is not paid, but does receive a 10% tax on land sales within the village. However, the third man, the religious leader, apparently has greater influence than the other two.Family conflicts are solved by the head of the family, and a spiritual leader may handle village level problems. Punishment for minor offenses is handled by the citizens of the village, but more serious crimes are referred to the police.Belide youth may choose their own mates with agreement from their family. If there is a member of the family that does not agree, the village chief is asked to decide. If he agrees, the family must allow the wedding to proceed. The groom must pay a bride’s price. The bride then uses this money to purchase their household essentials. Spiritual leaders are consulted to determine the best day for the wedding. It is common for Belide wedding feasts to last two to three days. Belide men may practice polygamy, but while it is permitted, it seldom occurs.
Customs and traditions have been passed down over many generations and have been harmonized with Islamic law. Although the Belide are Muslims, many of them still believe in superstition and evil spirits. For instance, some believe that whistling in a home at night calls forth evil spirits or that walking in circles on a person’s birthday brings bad luck to the person. Many write verses from the Qur’an (Islamic Holy Book) on small pieces of paper and carry them as protection against evil. A dukun (shaman/healer/occultist) is often called to heal the sick and exorcise evil spirits.
|Belitung Tribe 163.000|
|The Belitung live on the island of Belitung (sometimes called Bilton island) in the province of Bangka-Belitung. This island is located in the South China Sea on the east of Sumatera to the southwest of Bangka Island. The island is mostly lowlands with some hills, such as Tajam Laki and Tajam Bini. In some areas there are small rivers, and some small lakes can be found in old tin quarries on the island. The Belitung people’s term for themselves is Urang Belitong. The Belitung language is a branch of the Melayu (Malay) language cluster. A distinctive feature of their language is that it does not have the letter ‘h’ and they use ‘e’ at the end of the word rather than ‘a’. For example, jauh (far) becomes jao; hujan (rain) becomes ujan; putih (white) becomes pute; and apa becomes ape. Another distinctive feature is that they use terms that come from joining two or more words, such as hendak kemana (where are you going) becomes nakmane.|
The islands are considered important for their tin mines. Many earn their livelihood from mining tin and kaolin (a fine white clay). Other occupations include trade, fishing, boat building, iron working, and general office work. Only a small part of the land is suitable for rice cultivation. Planting rice is usually done by cutting and burning an area of the forest. Besides dry rice crops, the people in this area also grow corn, cassava, sweet potato, and banana. Other crops include rubber, pepper, cloves, coconut, sweet potatoes, and bananas. Handicraft industries developed by the Belitung include porcelain ceramics and woven rattan. The traditional Belitung house is built on a raised platform with bark walls and roofs of sago palm leaves. They also have temporary villages used during harvest. These houses are built at the edge of the forest and are usually lived in during the time the people work in the field. After the harvest, the people move back to their main village.The ancestry of the Belitung can be traced through either the line of the father or the mother. A village is formed by a group of families, termed a keleka. The keleka, lead by a traditional chief along with his assistants, has its own rules and accepted boundaries. The religious leader is a dukun (shaman/healer/occultist) whose duty is to lead the ceremonies of the community.
The Belitung adhere to Islam which came to the area around the 17th century. In spite of their dedication to Islam, many Belitung people are still influenced by animistic belief in spirits and various superstitions. These beliefs are focused upon seeking protection through magic by either appeasing or controlling both good and bad spirits. This can be seen in their ceremonies for working the rice fields (maras taun), fishing (buang jong), and weddings (gawai pengantin). They still believe in magical forces that inhabit sacred objects. Many things are forbidden by taboos.
|Duano 19.000 Islam|
|19,000 (Seidlitz). Population total all countries: 15,500. West Riau archipelago and east coast of Riau, Daratan Province. Also in Malaysia (Peninsular). Alternate names: Duano’, Orang Kuala, Desin Dolak, Desin Duano, Orang Laut.|
|Musi Sekayu Tribe 160.000 Islam|
|The Musi Sekayu people group generally build houses on the banks of the Musi River. Because of this, the Musi Sekayu are often called manusia sungai (river people). The literal meaning of sekayu is “one wood.” The phrase refers to a piece of long fabric that is spread out for people to sit on while eating together. The standard measurement of this long piece of cloth is designated as a musi sekayu. Unlike other people groups in Indonesia, such as the Bugis, Minangkabau or Jawa, the Musi Sekayu seldom move to a faraway place. Their desire to progress and search for their fortune is carried out only as far as the capital city of the province. This place can be reached by car in less than three hours. Their means of livelihood includes agriculture, forestry, labor, fishing, public transportation, construction, and government jobs such as teaching. The Musi Sekayu people living in the city of Palembang occupy a variety of work sectors, beginning with university professors, research specialists, land developers, shipyard workers, and pedicab drivers.|
Most families of the Musi Sekayu wish for a male child. They perceive that sons are a guarantee for the country’s future power (bakal negeri) as well as guaranteeing the continuation of their hereditary line (negakke jurai).
Almost all of the Musi Sekayu people embrace the religion of Islam. Every Musi Sekayu village has a mesjid (mosque) or langgar (Muslim prayer house). Some villages have Islamic schools and musholla (small public buildings or rooms for performing religious duties) as teaching and education centers for the Islamic religion. In spite of this, the people also still consult a local dukun (shaman/healer/occultist) for treatment or to have their fortunes told.
|Sakai and Talang Mamak Tribe 6.400|
|The indigenous Sakai people in Riau province, for example, who used to live in lush green jungles, now have to dwell in nearly barren areas in Bengkalis. Another tribe, the Talang Mamak in Indragiri Hilir, Indragiri Hulu and Jambi, are facing similar situations as their forested surroundings, too, have been cut down for oil palm plantations or have been turned into industrial forests.|
Despite their nomadic life, to these people, the earth and forests are part of their lives and something they must care for. They know how to manage their lands and forests, a knowledge that is passed down from their ancestors, which has enabled them to coexist harmoniously with nature and maintain their environs for many generations.
The majority of the Talang Mamak tribe, which comprises only 6,400 or so people, are illiterate. Most of them live in the districts of Seberida, Kelayang and Rengat Barat in Indragiri Hilir, and a small number of them live in Surnai, Bangko Tebo and Bukit 30 National Park, bordering Jambi province.
The Talang Mamak are currently languishing: the presence of forest concessionaires has been detrimental to their way of life and rendered it barely sustainable.
The state schools located far from their villages still remain a luxury for the animist tribespeople and, to make matters worse, many of them refuse to go to school, arguing that conventional, modern education would mean a departure from their long-maintained customs and traditions. They fear modern education will change their beliefs. According to tradition, converts are no longer regarded as members of the tribe.
Quite a few have embraced Christianity, but they still practice their indigenous customs, such as worshiping the animist spirits at sacred places. Others have converted to Islam, after which they become known as “Malay people” among the Talang Mamak.
The Sakai, Bonai, Talang Mamak and Duano tribes are socio-culturally and ethnically Malay, but have not been exposed to the Hindu, Islamic and European cultures. These people were segregated by the Malays for their “unhygienic” way of life.
Most Talang Mamak people are reluctant to become Muslims, because Islamic teachings, according to them, are contrary to their customs and traditions. For example, pork is traditional fare at wedding parties. They still use bark and leaves for clothing.
Being nomadic, they are able to prevent the government from annexing their ancestral lands and still lead a simple way of life, unaffected by external impurities. Their huts, usually measuring 3 meters by 4 meters, are built on stilts and have walls made of bark. It is in these homes that they cook, receive guests and chat. They cultivate the land around the huts — usually less than 1 square hectare, to grow cassava and sweet potatoes as their staple foods.
“We have planted cassava and sweet potatoes all our lives for many ages,” said Mohammad Supermi, 34, village chief of Durian Cacar.
Apart from farming, some of the tribespeople go to the forest to harvest rattan and honey from trees, which they call sialang. They sell the honey at the market or drink it with traditional herbal medicines.
Now, however, the ancestral forests, on which they depend their lives, are about to disappear, with the forests, the Talang Mamak way of life.