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"Sea Nomads" Indigenous People
From Riau Archipelago

ecology foundation/05-02-2022

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Hello Ecology Friends!

Did you know that..

Sea Nomads are one of the indigenous peoples in Indonesia who inhabit the territorial waters of the Riau Archipelago. The Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) defines indigenous peoples as groups of people who have a history of origins and have occupied customary territories for generations. In addition, launching from the website of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), indigenous peoples are tribal communities whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other parts of the national community, and whose status is governed wholly or partly by their customs or traditions itself or by special laws or regulations.

Also known as the Suku Sampan/Orang Laut, the Sea Nomads carries out all their life activities at sea and use a canoe/boat called the Kajang Boat as a home and place for them to carry out their daily activities. The canoe is a symbol of a family unit. In addition, the Sea Nomads live nomadic life from one island to another. Referring to the Sea Nomads Book published by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (2019), the distribution of Sea Nomads in the Riau Archipelago currently includes Lingga, Pulau Tujuh, Batam, as well as coasts and islands off the coast of East Sumatra and the southern Malay Peninsula.

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Sea Nomads Social Life

In maintaining their survival, the Sea Nomads are very dependent on marine and fishery products. For the Sea Nomads who still live a nomadic life, many Sea Nomads children do not get an education because they have to follow the lifestyle of their nomadic parents. However, currently there are many Sea Nomadss who live permanently on the mainland so that the opportunities for children to study are much greater. One of the Sea Nomads who have lived permanently is the Sea Nomads who is in Panglong Village, Berakit Village, Teluk Sebong District, Bintan Regency. This Sea Nomads is headed by Bang Tintin with the full name Fransiskus Xaverius Tintin, replacing his late father as the previous Head of the Sea Nomads.

According to Bang Tintin, the Sea Nomads in Panglong Village has been living permanently since 1952. The Sea Nomads who first came to Berakit were four people, one of whom was Bang Tintin's father who became the first Sea Nomads Chief in Berakit. They originally came to this area because of the abundance of fish resources and the environment that is still well preserved. To make a living, both the Sea Nomads who live nomadic and those who live permanently, they look for fish using traditional tools as a way of preserving their culture while preserving the environment.

The Association of Sea Nomads to the Environment

The Sea Nomads really loves the environment. The marine and coastal environment is the main source of the Sea Nomads's life as well as their home. Therefore, the Sea Nomads always strives to protect and maintain the sea so that it remains sustainable. For example, the Sea Nomads in Panglong Village use traditional fishing gear when they go to sea so they don't damage coral reefs, they also try to clean coral reef ecosystems from trash and other waste, save marine life, and utilize marine and coastal resources sufficiently so that they can be utilized sustainably.

In the past, the Sea Nomads in Panglong Village worked as a charcoal maker and owned several charcoal kitchens. However, because the main ingredient is mangrove, now the charcoal kitchen is no longer allowed to operate by the government to preserve mangroves. Even though the charcoal kitchen is no longer operating, which means it also closes one of the economic sources of the Panglong Village community, but with this, environmental sustainability is maintained. Now the charcoal kitchen is functioned as a museum and becomes a tourist attraction for tourists visiting Panglong Village.

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Regarding the waste problem, the Sea Nomads in Panglong Village is still facing obstacles in its management. Bang Tintin said that they are still having difficulties regarding garbage disposal because there is no location or container for the Sea Nomads here to dispose of their garbage. For this reason, Bang Tintin hopes that the government can provide waste disposal facilities (containers) so that the Sea Nomads have their own garbage disposal sites so that the environment is maintained.

The Sea Nomads as the original indigenous people of the Riau Archipelago must be preserved. They are a society that has a very high relationship with tradition/culture and the environment. Due to the proximity of the Sea Nomadss to the environment, they also become more vulnerable to environmental changes, especially the marine and coastal environment. The empowerment of the Sea Nomads community both from the social, economic and environmental aspects is very important to do in order to realize a better and more prosperous Sea Nomads life and get justice like other communities.

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