Indigenous Women’s Initiatives Preserve Natural Wealth

Natural conditions in several regions in Indonesia are increasingly alarming. Many forests and gardens become oil palm plantations. Massive destruction continues. Forests are lost, fields are destroyed, rice fields and cattle fields are gone. Indigenous peoples who used to depend on forest and field products have lost their source of life. Not to mention the HGU case that continues to haunt the community.

Natural resources in Indonesia are depicted at the National Seminar on “The Situation of Indigenous Women in Indonesia” (5/12) held by PEREMPUAN AMAN (Indigenous Women Union of the Archipelago). Amid the lack of natural support capacity, Yurni, Paser Indigenous Women stated in such circumstances. “Nobody can improve the part of the indigenous people itself,” Yurni said.

The National Seminar shows the initiative of indigenous women through the PEREMPUAN AMAN organization in reversing the situation of the natural resource crisis in indigenous territories.

The natural damage that occurred in Binua Manyalitn, Wisa, Dayak Kanayatn Indigenous Women, encouraged the Samabue Customary School. This school was formed so that the knowledge of indigenous women such as woven, agricultural cultivation, history, and folklore, as well as traditional cuisine was passed on to the younger generation. In the traditional school, Indigenous Women from the youth and the elderly are involved not only as initiators but also teachers of traditional schools.

The initiative to reverse the crisis that was pushed by Yurni along with PEREMPUAN AMAN was through plaited solong penias or baskets to put seeds. This weaving practice is carried out as an effort to save the knowledge of indigenous women who directly contribute to the suppression of deforestation rates.

In the east of Indonesia, the story of Julrevko Manduapessy, Adat Tananahu Woman, Maluku, was collected. Julvreko said that the Tananahu indigenous people are still struggling with the terror of the HGU continue to strive to defend the land. In the midst of growing mushrooming oil palm and cocoa, the Tananahu community continues to struggle to maintain the land so as to conserve sago as a staple food.

Devi Anggraini, Chairperson of PEREMPUAN AMAN, said that many roles and functions of indigenous women were lost, feudalism and patriarchy were still underway. In fact, the role of indigenous women in maintaining knowledge and environmental sustainability is very large. “Because of the domestic space of indigenous women is not just a piece of the kitchen but a large area up to the traditional territory,” said Devi.

Through the PEREMPUAN AMAN organization, Devi hopes that indigenous women must be brave, build the capacity of indigenous women to be more confident, and be able to explain who she is and what she wants to do and how and can be different.


PEREMPUAN AMAN’s Stance on the Indigenous Territory Conflict of People of Penunggu

Eviction by PTPN II Intercepted by Indigenous Women of Rakyat Penunggu (picture unknown 2017).

PT Perkebunan Nusantara II (PTPN II) seized again the Indigenous Peoples Penunggu’s territory. Results from monitoring the field yesterday (14/12) showed that PTPN II with apparatus of military or polices, and Pamong Praja leveled the gardens, fields and homes of the People of Penunggu in Kampong Bangun Rejo, Deli Serdang, North Sumatra.

The State’s plantation company claims to have an extended permit on concession. Whereas the Indigenous Peoples of Penunggu have submitted data related to the indigenous territory directly to the President of the Republic of Indonesia and included the data of indigenous communities, and their customary territories to become the priority location of Land Object of Agrarian Reform to Ministry of Agrarian and Secretariat of President Staff.

The eviction was intercepted by the Indigenous Peoples, men and women, who were gardening. The Indigenous Women of Penunggu asked for the ev5 indigenous women, one of them a pregnant mother, climbed onto the heavy equipment.

From Wani’s testimony (15/12), the authorities tore her hands, feet and body when she and other indigenous women were on the bulldozers. “I was beaten (pulled away-red) by the police, policewoman and Pamong Praja”, she said while simulating the apparatus’ action against her. For this middle-aged woman, the violence she experienced did not make sense. “We are just a few, but treated like a robber”, Wani protested.

Now, PTPN II aim to seize 22 points of Penunggu’s indigenous territory based on its 3 concessions. This state-owned enterprise’s execution was escorted by 450 police officers. Meanwhile, the indigenous women of Penunggu Kampung Bangun Rejo have built a simple post to protect their gardens and fields from the eviction of PTPN II’s heavy equipment.

Based on the report from the National Human Rights Commission, agrarian conflict in the last five years had escalated up to 80 percent or about 1,653 cases. The most complained about institutions are the police, followed by corporations, both state-owned enterprises/regional owned enterprises and private sector, and local governments. In the National Year-end Notes of National Commission on Violence Against Women (2017) shows that natural resource conflicts threaten the loss of indigenous women’s roles on food and sources of life.