Historical Tourism to the Indigenous Territories of the Heart of Borneo

One of the focal points of the Heart of Borneo landscape is atop its highest peak, standing at 1,800. meters above sea level.

Dr. Yansen TP, a Dayak intellectual, states that the concept of land ownership truth originally belongs to the indigenous communities rather than the state.
Dr. Yansen TP.

 "For example, in the context of the Kayan-Mentarang National Park in North Kalimantan," says one of the founders of the National Dayak Intellectuals Association (ICDN), "the indigenous communities were there first. 

The Dayaks have inhabited the Heart of Borneo for hundreds

The Dayaks have been inhabiting the Heart of Borneo for hundreds, even thousands of years, long predating the establishment of the state (Indonesia) on August 17, 1945. 

As a historical fact, indigenous communities existed before the state, not the other way around. The presence of the state serves to reinforce and assist these communities, rather than usurping what rightfully belongs to them. 

Despite one article in the 1945 Constitution stating that land, earth, water, and air are controlled by the State, this legal statement does not nullify the existence and ownership of indigenous communities.

That's why, the Deputy Governor of North Kalimantan emphasizes, "From today, make it a habit to say: The National Park is located within the indigenous community's territory."

A legal basis for this claim

However, Yansen emphasizes that there is a legal basis for this claim, namely Keputusan Mahkamah Konstitusi Nomor 35/PUU-X/2012 (Constitutional Court Decision Number 35/PUU-X/2012) which states that there must be at least five elements that characterize an Indigenous Legal Community. 

One of the requirements for recognizing an indigenous community is the existence of a historical record about that community. 

Yansen TP enjoys the natural ambiance of Krayan with his family and friends.

A natural hut in the middle of the Krayan forest available for anyone seeking shelter.

One of the scenic viewpoints at the Batu Ruyud Writing Camp location in November 2022, initiated by Dr. Yansen TP.


The social historical record

Why is the social historical record of an indigenous community important? 

Constitutional Court Decision Number 35/PUU-X/2012 states that there must be at least five elements that characterize an Indigenous Legal Community, which are:

1. The presence of a community unity where members feel they are part of the group (in-group feeling).

2. The existence of a traditional governance system.

3. The presence of wealth and/or traditional objects.

4. The existence of a set of customary law norms.

5. Specifically for indigenous legal communities that have a specific territory, there must be a specific element of indigenous legal territory.

The history of the indigenous communities in Krayan

It should be noted that the history of the indigenous communities in Krayan, the Heart of Borneo, has been researched, written, and published by Dr. Yansen along with Masri Sareb Putra in a book titled Jejak Peradaban Manusia Sungai Krayan (The Traces of Human Civilization of the Krayan River - published by the Dayak Literacy Institute, 2002). 

In this book, myths, fairy tales, legends, and facts are presented that demonstrate the long-standing presence of the people of Sungai Krayan, evidenced by historical sites, artifacts, inscriptions, and ancient dwellings and burial sites along the Sungai Krayan, in the administrative region of Nunukan District, North Kalimantan at this time.

"We do not need recognition from anywhere. We just need to write down the history of a clan like in this book. Then there is enough legally valid and conclusive evidence that an ethnic group has inherited the territory they currently inhabit, live off, and maintain," Yansen explains.

In this context, the importance of this activity is very clear. This activity is not only noble but also beneficial for the public interest, especially for the indigenous people and stakeholders in the Heart of Borneo region.

The indigenous communities residing in the Borneo Highlands naturally formed based on traditional farming practices. 

This tradition not only indicates ownership of the farmed land but also affirms its owner. Traditionally, the person who clears the land is considered its owner, a rule respected by all community members. 

Violations of this rule can lead to resolutions in the local customary court, with sanctions ranging from reconciliation to taking oaths. For violators who refuse to admit their wrongdoing, the consequences can be quite severe.

Historical tourism to the indigenous territories of the Heart of Borneo

The Kayan Mentarang National Park is located in North Kalimantan, Indonesia, and is one of the largest conservation areas in Indonesia. It covers an area of approximately 1,360,500 hectares, making it the largest national park in Indonesia. 

This area is known for its high biodiversity, including numerous protected species such as orangutans and various other birds and mammals. 

The Kayan Mentarang National Park is also important as the habitat for many indigenous communities who have lived in the area for centuries, and they play a significant role in the management and preservation of the park.

Based on its history, and referring to Constitutional Court Decision Number 35/PUU-X/2012, the Kayan Mentarang National Park is located in the customary territories of the Lundayeh community (Lengilo, Sa'ban, Nan Ba, Tana' Lun). They are the rightful heirs to the Borneo Highlands, one of the areas within the increasingly deforested lands of Borneo today.

 "This demonstrates evidence that the Dayak are wise and skilled in preserving their ancestral heritage," explains Yansen.

If you ever visit and enjoy the natural life in Krayan, you are actually engaging in historical tourism. You will see and experience how the Dayak people not only conserve and befriend nature but also live from it and are a part of the universe.

- Rangkaya Bada

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