***Orang Rimba are easily recognized by their features and dress, with their 
long, ruffled hair and loincloths. The women mostly go topless. This ancient 
attire, nomadic life and lack of hygiene is mocked by outsiders as backward, 
earning slurs from non-indigenous villagers and transmigrants. 


Jambi's Orang Rimba: Indonesia Forest Dwellers Fighting to Survive the Crush of 
Modernity

Indonesia's future is all about expansion. More power plants, toll roads, coal 
mines and palm oil plantations bring business, jobs and higher living 
standards, while contributing to the drive for modernization. 

All of that is fine, unless you're left out - or in the case of a small group 
of forest dwellers in central Sumatra, fighting a losing battle to prevent your 
culture from disappearing. 

Such is the plight of the Orang Rimba , an indigenous, semi-nomadic tribe in 
Jambi. Their people number about 3,000, but with rapid conversion of land and 
rampant deforestation occurring, tribal leaders say they're being squeezed out 
of their traditional home and losing their identity. 

With the modern ways of the outside world thrust upon them, the Orang Rimba 
have created a two-faced identity to survive. The Jakarta Globe visited the 
tribe in its homeland and chronicled its members' daily battle for food, clean 
water, proper health care and education for their children - all while trying 
to maintain ancient traditions. 

Orang Rimba are easily recognized by their features and dress, with their long, 
ruffled hair and loincloths. The women mostly go topless. This ancient attire, 
nomadic life and lack of hygiene is mocked by outsiders as backward, earning 
slurs from non-indigenous villagers and transmigrants. 

Though fed up with their treatment, the Orang Rimba still try to adjust to the 
modern world in some ways. Some wear T-shirts and pants, ride motorcycles and 
own cellphones. 

However, more and more of tribe's younger generation are being drawn toward 
modern life, even renouncing their animist beliefs and converting to Islam. 

"We can't avoid this, and it's very likely we will lose this battle," laments 
Tumenggung Tarib, a tribal leader

http://thejakartaglobe.com/home/jambis- ... ity/348878







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