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Being and Becoming Indigenous is a program that is an important for us: how various cross-sector meetings are initiated and how the involvement of all parties including the church, local government, schools, traditional leaders, women’s groups, younger generation in Mollo can be possible. We are proud to see the various spaces and opportunities that enable us to sit together, discuss, share ideas and innovations are carried out equally and fairly. Skol Tamolok then is present as a cultural school and a contextual-critical education model to learn Mollo’s local knowledge that is not obtained in formal schools. Moreover, Skol Tamolok is one of the cultural spaces that gives women and young people more access to convey their aspirations. This program can be an example for stakeholders on how creative spaces are cultivated and how opportunities are given fairly and equally to all citizens without exception—reflecting on the history and culture of the Mollo people in the past, they were very accommodating for all parties.
‘Being and Becoming Indigenous’ is a learning platform focusing on indigenous youth which is held in three indigenous communities in two countries, namely Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih and Mollo in Indonesia (RMI and Lakoat.Kujawas ) and Dumagat-Remontado in the Philippines (AFA and PAKISAMA).
One of the creative and innovative work we have done throughout the 10 months of Being and Becoming Indigenous project in the Mollo Mountain in Timor, East Nusa Tenggara is to explore our local food potential. Together with Mollo’s indigenous youth and elders, we documented food crops and traditional recipes for processing natural produces in Mollo. This activity made us realized that we had been living in a region that is rich in biodiversity and has a very strong food culture. Through this movement, we invite young people to build awareness of their local food that is varied, cheap and has a high nutritional content. Our activities are basically an effort against imported food hegemony and food uniformity. By discussing about food, we will also dive into other important issues namely environmental sustainability and access to indigenous lands and forests as our collective food source. Talking the local food, talking the future.
An important issue facing indigenous communities today is the loss of customary spaces where people can gather, discuss and share their indigenous knowledge. Even formal education fails to accommodate local knowledge that is highly contextual and essential at the local level. Meanwhile, there is another problem, namely the disconnection of traditional knowledge from the older generation to the younger generation. Many traditional elders passed away bringing all the knowledge and good practices about life. The Lakoat.Kujawas realizes the importance of this problem and, together with Being and Becoming Indigenous Project, tries to be a connecting space for accommodating it.
It was great to see Grandma Janse, who at her old age was very passionate about sharing her knowledge of weaving traditional woven fabrics and weaving leaves to the younger generation of the Mollo Indigenous Community.
We think there are several things that, in our opinion, the Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih indigenous youth, become interesting experiences during our meaningful participation with Being and Becoming Indigenous program. First, the indigenous young generation has the space to get to know each other and collectively learn about their customary traditions. Second, indigenous young women document medicinal plants and local food through chats and cooking practices with mothers and they are very happy because this has never happened before. Third, indigenous youths are inspired to form Young Farmer Groups, one of which is a collective garden that is owned and managed directly by youth. We see the garden as a place to put our agricultural knowledge into practice, play and to express our creativity.
We have a dark history related to the practices of mining companies that destroy our nature and ecosystem, which greatly supports people’s agriculture, in addition to the fact that the areas being mined are cultural sites that have strong links to the clan system and the beliefs of Mollo Indigenous Peoples. But not many Mollo’s younger generation today know about women who fight for the environment who, decades ago, managed to drive the miners out of Mollo’s land. These women sacrifice many things in their lives: their families, their jobs and even their own safety. They fought in the cultural way, weaving between stone cutting machines.
Mama Lodia, Mama Deci and Mama Anaci attended the Being and Becoming Indigenous program, sharing enthusiasm and inspiring stories to the young generation about the struggle to preserve nature and their identity as women and indigenous peoples. Yes, nature is the identity of the Mollo people.