Making sure rich Sarawak history is not lost

secretary general of Society for Rights of Indigenous People of Sarawak Michael Jok showing books containing the oral history of native comnunities of the state compiled by the society. Stephen pic

MIRI: A crucial project has started in Sarawak to put into print the oral history of indigenous communities to make sure their rich ancestral traditions and way of life will not become forgotten.

The effort being carried out by conmunity-based organistion, Society for Rights of Indigenous People of Sarawak (Scrips), is a pioneering move in the state which has more than 30 ethnic and sub-ethnic groups.

Scrips secretary general Michael Jok told Sarawak Metro that the society had already compiled six books containing the ancestral oral history of six different communities in the state and the books were released for the public by Scrips president Nor anak Nyawai in Bintulu town recently.

Jok yesterday said the move was important as the ancient history of the natives would become extinct over time if no effort was taken to ink them.

“Sarawak natives have history dating back centuries but until today not much effort had been taken to document them.

“Their history are only in oral form. That is why we feel it is so important to jot down the oral history of as many indigenous groups as possible from the older generations to make sure yjat the historical knowledge is passed down to future generations.

“Scrips has so far compiled six books on the oral history of the natives in six different parts of Sarawak,” he said.

The six books are about the ancestral roots and ways of life of the Kenyahs in Long Bangan Belaga, the Tebalans in Long Sobeng Tinjar, the Bisayas in Batu Danau Limbang, the Ibans in Nanga Jangin Ulu Lemarak, the Malays in Kampung Tungkah Melayu Simunjan and the Bidayuhs in Kampung Mujat Serian.

Jok said the books contained maps and pictures detailing the ancestral land they lived in since historical times.

The books also detailed their practices, cultures, food resources and the ways they used their land for survival.

The books also contained information on how human developments like logging and plantation projects had affected these natives and how they were struggling in the modern era.

Jok said that by putting their oral history in writing it was hoped that future generations would appreciate their ancestral roots and be more aware of their rights as the original peoples of Sarawak.

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