Accepted Paper:

Indigenous views of development: in their own words  


Dorothy Billings (Wichita State University)

Paper short abstract:

Many people of West Papua have been struggling for independence since 1963. Their homeland has been over-populated by transmigrants, Indonesian military, loggers, and especially by the American Mining Company, Freeport. This paper reports one attempt to regain control of their land with their own words.

Paper long abstract:

The people of West Papua, a province of Indonesia, have struggled to attain independence since the UN gave this former Dutch colony to Indonesia in 1963. In the villages around Merauke, a group of Marind intellectuals wrote a letter to the local government officials in which they said, ""Over the last few months, a series of meetings have taken place in villages around Merauke to discuss development plans, within the framework of local adat, or customary law. In each one, a resolution has been made, a clear rejection of all investment." The letter explains why development is rejected: "the forest not only is the source of people's livelihood, but also their culture and their identity. When the forest is gone, how can the Malind Amin continue to exist?"

The letter goes on to explain that people do want development, but not the destructive development that they have so far experienced. This paper reviews the many approaches West Papuans have taken to gain support, which is now world-wide and offered from many different organizations and states.

Panel P036
Indigenous knowledge and sustainable development (Commission on Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainable Development)