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THE DAYAK WAY OF EMBRACING TRADITION AND SUSTAINABILITY

The Wehea Dayak Village, located in Kalimantan’s beautiful interior, showcases a uniquely preserved culture that emphasises life in harmony with nature. The Wehea Dayak are one of the indigenous peoples who live in the Muara Wahau District of East Kutai Regency, East Kalimantan.

The Wehea Dayak community embodies a unique way of life that combines traditions, reverence, and a strong commitment to sustainable living practices. They continue to follow many aspects of life that have been passed down from their ancestors, including traditional farming techniques such as swidden agriculture. This method is used to protect their natural spaces while also protecting their cultural legacy.

Moreover, they embrace spiritual ideas that are deeply connected to nature. To them, the forest is more than just a resource, it is also a sacred haven that was settled by their ancestors and guardians. Traditional rites and rituals are held to honour and seek harmony with these spiritual entities, emphasising the Wehea Dayak people’s deep connection to their land.

Playing a central role in conservation efforts, especially the orangutan reintroduction program of the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation and PT. Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (PT. RHOI). As part of their orangutan conservation effort, BOS Foundation and PT. RHOI actively implements community empowerment programs targeting the Dayak Wehea community in three villages, Dea Beq, Bea Nehas, and Diaq Lay. This collaboration demonstrates the link between preserving cultural heritage and the natural environment.

However, issues surrounding continued human development and deforestation can still be felt deep within Borneo. In response, the Wehea Dayak community demonstrates resilience by applying traditional knowledge to modern issues. For example, they only produce and gather resources to match their needs, not to excess as many communities do for the sake of profit. They rotate their rice fields, allowing unneeded areas of land to return to nature while also still hunting, but using traditional weapons to limit the quantities of animals killed so it does not cause population decline.

Currently, PT. RHOI has implemented various community empowerment initiatives supported by partners, both domestic and international. These programs span education, health, and sustainable commodity production.

Text by: Communication Team, BOS Foundation Headquarter, Bogor, West Java

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