Land grabbers turn Indigenous ritual against Papuans for industrial-scale agriculture, anthropologist  says

17 Apr 2019

Photo credit: Aerial view of a meandering river in northern Papua, Indonesia. CIFOR/Mokhamad Edliadi 

Proponents of industrial-scale agriculture are using tricks to grab land away from Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia’s Papua province, where government is encouraging production of sugar, timber and palm oil – crops that will replace the forests that Indigenous Papuans are heavily dependent upon for food and clean water.

That is according to an article published on the website of The Gecko Project, following an interview with anthropologist Sophie Chao of the University of Sydney. She explains the indigenous people’s culture and livelihoods are closely linked to the region’s extensive rainforest.

And some feel that negative environmental impacts from oil palm expansion, for example, are a form of retribution on the part of plant and animal spirits for the failure of indigenous people to protect them, says Chao. That is just one of the mechanisms through which indigenous people are compelled to give up their land, adds Chao, who has studied the often-fraught relationship between Papuans and plantation firms.

Firms are also offering banquets and large gifts to Indigenous people, knowing that their culture and tradition demands reciprocity and exchange from local people – a trick to get them to sign over control of land, according to the article.

Read the full article on the website of The Gecko Project by clicking here.

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