Indigenous community wisdom Protecting forests and climate change 

Indigenous community

Indigenous peoples in Indonesia, who live in or around forests, rivers, lakes and seas, have a number of myths. These myths point to a supernatural power that controls the universe. This myth is told by symbols of humans and animals which are sacred, giving rise to a number of rituals.

A number of indigenous peoples or communities in South Sumatra and the Bangka Belitung Islands have myths. In South Sumatra, it is known as Si Pahit Lidah, a powerful human figure who is able to turn humans, animals or man-made objects into stone [ andesite ].

Until now, many places or stones in a number of areas in South Sumatra are sacred. Not least, at the sacred location a ritual was held, as a tribute to Si Bitter Tongue.

In the Bangka Belitung Islands, the story of Akek Antak is known, a powerful human figure who lived in the past. Its existence is connected with the [granite] stone. Apart from being able to turn living things and objects into stone, Akek Antak is also known for his footprints on a number of rocks.

The story of Akek Antak is known to every indigenous people who live around the geopark on Bangka Island, such as Penyabung Hill, Bembang Beach, Jerangkat Beach, Penganak Beach, Tanjung Tengkalat, Punggur Puing Beach, Mount Permisan, Sungai Olin, and Tapak Dewa Beach.

In addition to myths related to human figures, myths related to animals are also found. In South Sumatra and the Bangka Belitung Archipelago, the white crocodile is known as a guardian or guardian of lakes, swamps and rivers.

In Palembang, for example, there is a myth about the white crocodile and banyu antu that guard the Musi River. Meanwhile in Pagaralam, there is a myth about the white tiger or tiger man, who lives in the jungle and on Mount Dempo.

Hendra Gunawan, Lead Researcher for Biodiversity Conservation at the National Research and Innovation Agency [BRIN], said that various myths that encourage indigenous peoples or communities to protect forests, mountains, rivers and seas, must be understood as local wisdom or local knowledge, which needs to be preserved. or forwarded.

Hendra gave an example of the existence of a sacred forest, as explained on the Jagattani TV Youtube channel . He explained that the sacred forest is a forest that is protected, guarded, cared for, and preserved by a community. Usually indigenous communities or local communities. Indigenous people protect it, because the forest has values ​​that are respected and valued.

Those values. First , spiritual value. Second , cultural values. Third , the social value, and fourth , the intrinsic value of the forest. “This is what matters. The value attached to the forest. Namely benefits. For example, to protect the spring in the forest.”

Because all these myths are related to supernatural powers that control the universe, “So, indigenous peoples will protect or not damage sacred areas or objects related to these myths,” said Dr. Husni Tamrin, Palembang humanist, to Mongabay Indonesia , Friday [5/8/2023].

“If nature is damaged, then he [supernatural power] will provide various disasters and diseases, which make humans suffer or die,” explained Husni.

As a result of guarding this sacred area, many jungles, hills, mountains, rivers, lakes, seas have been maintained to this day.

“Usually referred to as the forbidden territory. For example forbidden forests, forbidden hills, forbidden rivers, forbidden swamps, and so on.”

This definition of prohibited is related to human activity. Good for making settlements, fields, gardens, or access to find wood, fish, and a number of animals.

Husni explained, both Si Bitter Tongue and Grandpa Antak, both showed an attitude that did not like humans who were greedy, arrogant, or disobedient to the rulers of the universe.

Many messages say that if arrogance or greed is perpetrated by a group or community, their anger will be in the form of drought, floods, food crises or disease outbreaks.

Several shamans or traditional leaders in the Bangka Belitung Islands explained that if the hills were damaged, Bangka Island, Sumatra Island, Java Island would sink.

One of them is Mount [Hill] Maras. If Mount Maras is destroyed [the forest and the land], Bangka Island will sink, including the islands of Sumatra and Java. It was a message from our ancestors, so we have to protect these hills. The disaster was caused by the [supernatural] rulers on Mount Maras being angry,” said Umran [75], a traditional leader of the Maras tribe, whom Mongabay Indonesia met at his residence in Rambang Hamlet, Berbura Village, Riau Silip District, Bangka Regency, Bangka Belitung Islands, last year 2021.

The seven hills, namely Mount Maras, Mount Menumbing, Mount Pelawan, Mount Mangkol, Mount Muda, Bukit Nenek, and Bukit Batu Kepale.

“If the forests and hills are damaged, there will be a big flood. The island of Bangka is sinking,” said Abok Geboi [54], a traditional leader of the Mapur tribe, who lives in Aik Abik Hamlet, Gunung Muda Village, Belinyu District, Bangka Regency.

The Malay people in Batu Beriga Village, Central Bangka Regency, annually perform taber laot or sea alms on Batu Beriga beach. This ritual is a sign of locking the sea for three days. Locking means residents in Batu Beriga Village and its surroundings are prohibited from going to sea. Good looking for fish, bathing, and other activities.

The myth is that those three days are the time for the rulers of the sea. “If violated, disaster will befall the violator. Many people lost their lives,” said Jamaludin, Head of the Adat Dusun Beriga.

Handoyo, a researcher from the Population Research Center of the National Research and Innovation Agency [BRIN], said that judging from social and cultural functions, it can be said that myths about indigenous peoples function as environmental mitigation.

“They live face to face with nature. So, it is very natural for them to think about nature. Because all their necessities of life are taken directly from nature,” he explained, Saturday [5/8/2023].

The current context, what indigenous peoples do with their myths, can be understood as an effort to prevent global climate change. “They maintain the balance of nature. The climate is maintained, so that social and cultural activities run continuously, without disturbances such as natural disasters and disease attacks.”

“It’s good for us to respect these myths. Of course, as an effort to overcome today’s environmental problems, climate change, which has an extraordinary negative impact on humanity, “he said.

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