Kambu, last day of Self Quarantine of Covid19
To capitalize on the human and cultural capitals in developing the indigenous peoples requires a good understanding of the local context of the community that we would like to work in. As an example, the community in this article refers to the indigenous peoples in Nanga Village, East Sumba Island, Indonesia. These people, known friendly to the outsiders, live in two remote hamlets in an isolated village, with the total area is 4.72 km2, without electricity. In 2016, they were distributed in 181 households with 408 males and the rest 366 as females (BPS Sumba Timur, 2016). Although Christianity becomes the dominant religion among the residents, the other 185 dwellers still adhere to the traditional belief called Marapu. There is only one elementary school with limited official teachers, no public health centre, and the majority of the people did not attend formal school, resulting in, for instance, a literacy problem.
Livestock raising and dryland farming have become the main occupation as the residents have occupied the flat area and hilly region dominated by savannah, farming land, and secondary forest consecutively. Each household in the area has livestock, either horse, buffalos, or both. In particular, the horse has high cultural values and cannot be traded and can only be sacrificed during special rituals. The more horse a family, have, the higher the social status it holds in the community.
What makes these peoples, mainly the adherent of Marapu, unique is that they still practice the old tradition in land use and resource management called Rotu. As a form of cultural capital, the old tradition in land management has been widely practised amongst agricultural society. The tradition not only has conserved the soil, as an instance but has provided the inhabitants with mutual benefits such as local food security during prolonged weather. Agatha (2016) argued that indigenous knowledge and wisdom, handed down over many generations through words and local practices, could be used to address developmental issues and problems.
Rotu is an old tradition of land management practises involving beliefs, processes, hierarchical structures, and religion established and valued by the residents on the island. The old tradition, believed to have been in existence for hundreds of years, has governed the use of the resource by, for instance, prohibiting earlier harvesting of agricultural and forest products or temporarily closing the communal grazing lands. In practice, there are Rotu Pingi Ai for agricultural products, Rotu Banda for livestock and grazing lands, and Rotu Omang that regulates the products and services in sacred forests. The practices of Rotu have so far provided the dwellers with social and environmental benefits, but not economically sound as the agricultural products produced are mainly as a staple food with low market prices.
The old tradition cannot, however, completely meets the increasing needs of the indigenous peoples and protects them from the imminent challenges to the changing environment and climate (Ma’ruf & Albasri, 2015). Moreover, the practices of Rotu are currently often violated as the residents dominated by the young family have converted from the traditional belief to Christian. The Christian followers argue that Rotu is not in line with what Jesus has taught because it involves paganism in its practices. As a result, they no longer fear to violate the status of Rotu in particular resources simply because they are now Christian.
By contrast, the adherents of Rotu have believed that any violation of Rotu, should be customarily and socially sanctioned as adverse impacts will occur to the community if the sanction is not being enforced. In fact, bad impacts truly happen several times. While the Christian followers argued that the impacts were not related to the violation of Rotu’s status, the adherent of Marapu thought contrarily. According to the latter, due to the violation of Rotu Pingi Ai, for instance, the production yield decreased substantially because tai kabala, a kind of crop pest in the local language, stroke the immature crops as the spirit’s sanction. That occurred because the Christian adherent entered the area of Rotu and collected whatever plants they wanted. Hypothetically, from a scientific point of view, part of the plants gathered by the Christian dwellers could naturally control tai kabala’s spread. Such a situation calls for community practitioners’ help.
Assuming that I am a community developer who works at one of NGOs and serves the indigenous peoples on the island, I will facilitate the development of their existing human and cultural capitals by applying various community development approaches. As understood, stocks of resources might decrease or increase through the times. Investing in the elements of capitals that the dwellers need to respond to the community’s changes will be the central work. From the context of the human capital of the indigenous people, it is clear that their knowledge, skills, and working ability are limited to their daily life as farmers, ranchers, and farmer-foresters. Creativity or ability to innovate is just something beyond their mind as they live life as it is.
Additionally, the potential conflict between the Christian and Marapu does exist, resulting in the ineffectiveness of the Rotu’s practices as embodied cultural capital on the local land use and resource management. Nevertheless, other cultural capital elements such as local language, norms and regulation, except the ones related to Rotu, are still generally practiced and respected by the dwellers. Some steps to capitalize on the indigenous peoples’ existing human and cultural capitals will be described in the last part of this writing Insya Allah.