Being and Becoming Indigenous: Voice of Indigenous Youth

“How do you perceive your identity as being indigenous in present days, when modernization, especially information technology and digitalisation have further changed the way we interact with our surroundings, and have further influenced the way we see things, including to contribute to the stigma attached to indigenous communities and those depending on natural resources?” “Do you think you are still indigenous when you use technology that your parents and elders did not use in the past times?” “What do you think that makes you indigenous and what does it mean?”

Drawing from daily lives of indigenous youth, these kinds of questions are carefully designed in a project titled “Being and Becoming Indigenous” to provide space for youth from four indigenous communities to discuss their own perception on their indigeneity in the midst of modernity. Some of these questions are actually reflected from questions that are often being asked by the non-indigenous persons to the youth, questioning their identity as part of indigenous communities. These kinds of questions have left these youth confused as these kinds of seemed-to-be-contradictions are rarely discussed. As these crossroads between indigeneity and modernity of indigenous youth’s identity is rarely discussed, the directions of changes that are likely to happen are not well-planned.

Indigenous Youth of Mollo, in South Central Timor Regency, East Nusa Tenggara Province. Resource: Lakoat Kujawas

The “Being and Becoming Indigenous” is a project to empower indigenous youth by creating a space for them to understand their roots and the meaning of their traditions, especially on natural resources governance, in the midst of modern life. This project also aims to contribute to strengthening the youth’s perception on indigeneity that implies to these youth’s participation in reproducing their community’s communal-based livelihoods practices in the long run. Youth of four indigenous communities namely Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih in Lebak Regency, Banten Province, Mollo in South Central Timor Regency, East Nusa Tenggara Province, both located in Indonesia, and Agta-Dumagat-Remontado in the Philippines will experience the opportunity to define their identity as being part of indigenous communities whilst living and be connected, including digitally, to the modern world. Co-learning space will be enjoyed by these youth to understand the meaning of being and becoming indigenous in the next eight months.

This project is led by RMI-the Indonesian Institute for Forest and Environment in collaboration with Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA). Acting as local implementers are Lakoat Kujawas in Indonesia, and PAKISAMA in the Philippines. “Being and Becoming Indigenous” is a project supported by VOICE programme.

Please the process of these indigenous youth in perceiving their identities as part of global youth culture whilst also rooting in to their traditions!