The people of Malind Anim, one of the tribes in Papua that inhabits the region in Merauke regency, live in harmony with the nature around them. This is shown by the Balagaize clan, who inhabit Kaliki Village. “The nature we live in, is actually an inheritance from our ancestors for us to protect. For that reason, it must be preserved, maintained and used responsibly. This was stated by Esau Balaigese, a resident of Simpang Wayau, a forest management concession area of Mo Make Unaf’s Cooperative.
Before we get into a forest to hunt or cut down sago trees or any trees, we have to perform a custom ritual called Amai. This ritual is usually led by a senior of a particular clan. Before the ritual leader recites the prayer, things needed in the ritual should be prepared such as fern leaves, betel nut, betel leaves, lime and tobacco.
After all the ritual equipment is ready, all family members gather and stand around the tree to be felled. One member of the family will be in charge of holding the fern leaves, arranging and placing them on one side of the tree to be felled. Next, the ritual leader will be in charge of starting the ritual by reciting a prayer in the local language, and then put the betel nuts, betel leaves, lime and tobacco.
For the Malim Anim tribe, Amai is a form of their appreciation for their ancestral spirits. The Malind Anim tribe believes that the nature is guarded by the spirits of their ancestors from time to time. Thus, before we enter and utilize any natural resource, we must seek permission from our ancestors. “It is just like when we are about to enter someone’s house, we must knock on the door and ask for permission from the host,” said Esau Balagaize, the Amai ritual leader, before cutting down the trees with KSU (Cooperative) Mo Make Unaf members.
* KSU (Cooperative) Mo Make Unaf is one of the cooperatives assisted by WWF-Indonesia in the community logging program. This program is a timber forest product management program conducted by the indigenous peoples on the basis of sustainable principles.
Author : Benja V. Mambai
Translator : Ade Sangadji