Ethnic joy: Kadazandusun folk performing the Sumazau dance at the gathering in Tenom.
KOTA KINABALU: Some 700 people of various indigenous groups in Malaysia came together for a celebration at the Murut Culture Centre in the interior Tenom district.
Garbed in their traditional and colourful costumes, they gathered to commemorate the four-day World Indigenous Peoples Day.
Among those who turned up were the Kadazandusun, Murut, Bajau and Rungus of Sabah, the Orang Ulu, Iban and Melanau of Sarawak, and orang asli from
The gathering, which was organised as part of efforts to protect the rights of the indigenous people, was launched by Sabah Murut Association vice-president Senator Datuk Dr Lucas Umbul.
The celebration featured ethnic groups showcasing their dances and other traditions, as well as games, a youth jamboree and the sale of food and crafts.
Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia secretary-general Mary Giun said the theme for this year’s gathering was Uplifting Indigenous Peoples’ Customary Institution.
“This was chosen because customary institutions have long maintained the distinct social, economic and political systems of indigenous peoples, which are crucial to our identity and harmonious existence,” she said.
“Customary law guarantees the sustainable use of land that is beneficial to orang asal (indigenous communities) as well as the environment,” she said.
This grassroots celebration has been organised annually by the association since 2008 with Sabah, Sarawak and peninsula Malaysia taking turns to host.