Indigenous peoples in Indonesia

Indonesia has a population of around 237 million. The government recognizes 365 ethnic and sub-ethnic groups as komunitas adat terpencil - geographically-isolated customary law communities. They number approx. 1.1 million. Many more peoples, however, consider themselves, or are considered by others, to be indigenous.

The national indigenous peoples’ organization, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN), uses the term masyarakat adat to refer to indigenous peoples. A conservative estimate of the number of indigenous peoples in Indonesia amounts to between 30 and 40 million people.

Legislation concerning indigenous peoples

The third amendment to the Indonesian Constitution recognizes indigenous peoples’ rights in Article 18b-2. In more recent legislation, there is an implicit, though conditional, recognition of some rights of peoples referred to as masyarakat adat or masyarakat hukum adat, such as Act No. 5/1960 on Basic Agrarian Regulation, Act No. 39/1999 on Human Rights, MPR Decree No X/2001 on Agrarian Reform.

The UNDRIP adopted but not implemented

Indonesia is a signatory to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Government officials argue, however, that the concept of indigenous peoples is not applicable, as almost all Indonesians (with the exception of the ethnic Chinese) are indigenous and thus entitled to the same rights. Consequently, the government has rejected calls for special treatment by groups identifying themselves as indigenous.

Yearly update

Read the 2012 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Indonesia to learn about major developments and events during 2011 (internal link)

Download the 2011 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Indonesia to read more about major developments and events during 2010

Enjoy some images from Indonesia below (IWGIA Flickr archive)