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Adat and Indigeneity in Indonesia

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Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin

Adat as a Means of Unification and its Contestation. The Case of North Halmahera

Serena Müller

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Introduction

1After the fall of Suharto in 1998, the politics of democratisation and decentralisation triggered manifold developments with regard to adat and culture in Indonesia. In many regions, it led to a “revival of adat” (Henley and Davidson 2008) and “new politics of tradition” (Bubandt 2004). By this time, the Maluku region had experienced tensions and violent conflicts. In many parts of the region, adat was seen as “the only viable means for long-term reconciliation, social cohesion, and successful local government” (Frost 2004:1). Therefore, many efforts were undertaken to strengthen adat and adat institutions for reconciliation and peace. Bräuchler (2007) analyses two cases in Maluku and describes the strategies and challenges applied. Although she mentions divergent perceptions of the relationship between governmental politics and adat, she does not examine the consequences of an overlap of political authority and endeavours to strengthen adat. This is the point of entry of my paper. I will analyse the political authority of the district head of North Halmahera and the way he and his supporters engage in adat to promote unification and reconciliation among formerly conflicting parties. The district head’s double role as a representative of the state or dinas and as adat leader became prominent when he hosted the Fourth Congress (KMAN IV) of Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara, the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) in Tobelo in April 2012.

  • 1 The island of Makean was hit by a volcanic eruption in 1975. Therefore, many people migrated to Kao (...)

2In focusing on the contested character of adat, I will, firstly, briefly portray the key actors, their background and motivation. In a second step, I will describe and analyse the currently dominant version of adat and how this version should contribute to reconciliation and peace. I will, furthermore, show how this dominant version is contested by another diverse set of actors consisting of adat leaders from different locations and other public figures. I will argue that adat in North Halmahera indeed has significant potential for reconciliation, especially the bridging of religious differences. However, the promotion of a shared adat implies a homogenisation, and takes place at the expense of the multiple local adat variations and of the migrants excluded from it – especially those from Java and those belonging to the ethnic minority of the Makean who are now living in the southern Kao region1.

  • 2 Census 2010 (BPS 2010).
  • 3 “Region” refers to the four areas distinguished by North Halmahera’s government: Tobelo, Kao, Galel (...)
  • 4 The field research in North Halmahera between April and May 2012 was part of a research project on (...)

3The district of North Halmahera was established in 2003 as part of the decentralisation and administrative restructuring of the province of North Maluku (pemekaran). Its population was about 160,000 people in 2010. While the province is numerically dominated by Muslims (75%), the majority of the district of North Halmahera is Protestant (60%).2 The district is divided into four regions.3 My research4 focuses on three of these regions: Kao, located in the south, the territory of Tobelo town and the region of Galela in the North. Discourses on adat often refer to this geographic differentiation, as does the analysis of the violence that took place there between 1999 and 2001: Kao was the region where the conflicts started; the other regions only became involved later.

4Different interpretations of the causes of the conflict were given by scholars in the aftermath. Brown, Wilson and Hadi (2005:18-19) relate the conflict to the establishment of the province of North Maluku in October 1999 and, therefore, see it as a result of the decentralisation policy. The administrative restructuring, as Wilson argues in another paper, led to violence that was indeed about “territory, natural resources, and ethnic solidarity”, primarily between migrants from Makean and the local residents of Pagu, one of the communities in Kao (Wilson 2005:89). A similar interpretation is given by Braithwaite et al.: They see the ethnic competition between migrants and the “indigenous population” of the region for “access to justice, access to compensation and a failure to be heard by government” as the main reason for the conflict (2010:224-225). Bubandt takes a different stand when he explains the conflict as the consequence of “the rise of a new politics of tradition” (2004:13), as a competition between Ternate and Tidore, the two sultanates of North Maluku, over political influence in the newly established province (see also Klinken 2001).

5In spite of these diverse interpretations, most authors agree that the conflict had taken on a religious character, a fight between Christians and Muslims, by the end, especially in the regions of Tobelo and Galela. As Duncan points out in “Reconciliation and Revitalization”, an analysis of the revitalisation of adat for purposes of reconciliation in Tobelo, the community leaders of Tobelo concur. In their point of view, the weakness of adat in Tobelo made the town vulnerable to violence (Duncan 2009:1088). Therefore, they initiated a “resurgence of tradition” in the aftermath of the conflict, because “by strengthening, and in some cases recreating, adat institutions, they believe they can ensure future peace and stability” (ibid: 1091).

  • 5 The term “indigenous community” is here used as the translation of the Indonesian term masyarakat a (...)

6The currently dominant version of adat as proposed by a group of powerful Tobelo actors focuses on the establishment of unity of what is called Hibua Lamo. This means “big house” in the Tobelo language. It is used as a term for a philosophy and a spatial and social organisation based on a common adat structure. Thus, it stands for the unity of ten “indigenous communities”5 in North Halmahera, living in the four regions of the district. Hibua Lamo is thought to unite the inhabitants of North Halmahera independent of their religions. People involved in processes of adat strengthening declare that adat can “rebuild unity and prevent future conflict in the region” (ibid: 1084). It has to be added that the two factions, both the group which is reshaping and promoting adat as a means of regional integration and unification, as well as its opponents, are elite people whose discourses have only been adopted or supported by people in everyday life to a limited extent.

Set of Actors

The “Tobelo Group”

7Let me describe the two different sets of actors involved in the negotiations over adat in North Halmahera.

8The first, which I will call the “Tobelo group”, is consciously shaping and creating a unifying version of adat for the whole of North Halmahera, which they call Hibua Lamo adat. The central figure is the current district head.

Jiko Makolano: The district head’s election campaign poster illustrates the blurred boundaries between the adat and the administrative sphere. It merges the spatial and social order of Hibua Lamo with the state’s division of the province.
Photo: Serena Müller 2012

  • 6 These are only two out of eight important roles (peran) of the district head mentioned in “Kharisma (...)
  • 7 This council is called Dewan AMAN Nasional (DAMANNAS). Together with the Secretary-General (Sekjen) (...)

9He holds an engineering degree and started his political career as the sub-district head of Tobelo in 2001. After the conflict, the governor of North Maluku had charged him with re-establishing peaceful relationships between Christian and Muslim factions of society. This endeavour proved quite difficult: He was faced with rejection and resistance from both groups in the beginning (Bataona 2009:107-108; Dramastuti 2012:84; Braithwaite et al. 2010:223). Nevertheless, he finally succeeded in encouraging Muslim refugees on the island of Morotai to return to Tobelo, and convinced the two parties in the conflict to sign a peace declaration in April 2001. In 2005, two years after North Halmahera became a district of its own, the sub-district head was elected as district head. He is not only politically important, but also active and respected in the local branch of the Evangelical Church, the Gereja Masehi Injili di Halmahera (GMIH). Adat, for him, is the only collective resource powerful enough to overcome the religious differences. This conviction is obvious in all his social and political engagements: He gives speeches in the Tobelo language, wears traditional costumes and integrates traditional dances and music in public appearances, and always strives to act as a role model in implementing adat values. Because of his deep commitment to adat, he was appointed as Jiko Makolano (“Ruler of the Bay”), as “guardian and protector” of the region (Papilaya 2012:1) in 2005; as jiko makolano, he is regarded as the highest adat leader of the regional unity of Hibua Lamo (see below). He is seen as an integrative figure (pola anutan), source of inspiration (sumber inspirasi) and guardian (pengayom) (Namotemo 2009:11). He “structured adat institutions” (kelembagaan adat) and “made publicly known and actualised institutions” of Hibua Lamo culture (budaya) (Papilaya 2012:89).6 He then documented further institutions of this encompassing Hibua Lamo adat structure and began with their establishment. In 2012, after KMAN IV was successfully held in Tobelo, the district head was elected head of the National Council of AMAN.7

  • 8 For further information on the college’s history and aims see the college’s website (Admin poltekpa (...)
  • 9 The monument “O libuku iata ma akere” (empat penjuru mata air, the four directions of the springs o (...)
  • 10 He used the octagonal form and equipped it with cultural emblems and symbols. He used red and yello (...)
  • 11 He was member of North Halmahera’s parliament as a representative of the Golkar party until he, the (...)

10The district head closely consults and collaborates with a local adat activist in these activities. He works as a “special advisor on Tobelo adat issues”, as Duncan has expressed his tasks in English (2009:1093). The advisor’s parents were both craftsmen producing local handicrafts and educated him with an awareness of adat and culture. He, also an engineer, had founded dance and music groups since the 1980s in order to promote cultural practices and to further pride in local adat. The advisor is interested in local history and culture, continuously searches for North Halmahera’s adat roots, forms and histories, and has published on these issues as well. He teaches social and cultural anthropology, with special reference to local customs and tradition, at the Padamara, a college established in Tobelo after the conflict in order to facilitate a harmonious and peaceful North Halmahera. For this purpose, the college explicitly focuses on the inclusion and transmission of local knowledge in its “development-oriented education”.8 The adat advisor is engaged in the promotion and dissemination of adat, both by dance and music performances, as well as ceremonies, which he organises for the district head. He designed the monument for KMAN IV held in Tobelo in 2012 and was in charge of the opening ceremony as well as the inauguration of AMAN’s head and its national council.9 He also designed his own house in a style he classifies as traditional.10 As it is constructed around a big open space, it can be used for meetings, such as workshops during KMAN IV. The position as an adat activist is complemented by his membership of North Halmahera’s parliament.11

The monument Air Nusantara in Tobelo. Holy water from all over Indonesia was merged in the monument during the opening ceremony of KMAN IV in April 2012. Tobelo activists borrowed from Hibua Lamo philosophy in its construction, especially the importance of the number eight and the cardinal points.
Photo: Serena Müller 2012

11Besides these two key actors, the Tobelo group comprises only a handful of other people. Almost all of them are Christians. Further members are, for example, the district head’s wife, pastors, adat leaders, an expert in the Tobelo language, the owner of a local newspaper, and the head of the Department of Culture and Tourism.

12Thus, they are affiliated with very different social institutions and fill important positions in the administrative, religious and academic fields. They all share a common interest in cultural issues and strive to make adat an important issue in the public and private life of North Halmahera’s population. United by this shared motivation, their endeavours are organised and coordinated: They promote the discourse on adat by conducting meetings and publishing books on adat-related issues. The Tobelo group sees culture and adat as a modernising interpretation of the past; they also acknowledge their personal involvement in the shaping of adat performances and in material objects. However, these actors differ in their perspective on the relationship between political-administrative and adat affairs: Whereas the district head underlines that it is impossible to distinguish between these spheres as he performs both roles simultaneously, his adat advisor is critical of this merging of roles and highlights the dangers of adat being spoilt by politics. The latter’s call for a strict separation of these roles is supported by other members of the Tobelo group.

“Hibua Lamo Critics”

13The second set of people, whom I will call “Hibua Lamo critics”, has one important role in common: They all function as contacts and representatives of their communities with the Tobelo group. Therefore, they are invited to and attend meetings organised by the Tobelo faction on issues of North Halmahera’s adat. Some are invited because of their leading positions in adat structure, which is acknowledged by their community. Others are civil servants, and thereby, the district head’s direct subordinates, and are appointed by their superior as a “coordinator” of their particular community. They are, therefore, neither representatives of, nor legitimised by, their communities to speak or decide on adat issues. Consequently, they cannot make decisions on behalf of their communities and do not feel comfortable in their position. This is especially so as, in some cases, there are incongruities between the local delineation and composition of the community and the boundaries as defined by the Tobelo group. This applies particularly to Galela in the north. Hibua Lamo critics are scattered in the regions of Kao and Galela. They are quite diverse in their perspectives, motivations and aims and less organised than the Tobelo group.

14The Hibua Lamo critics I met are sub-district heads, adat leaders as well as religious authorities; accordingly, they are also situated at the intersection between dinas, adat and agama (religion). Although they have been involved in the process by the Tobelo group, they are critical of the developments in recent years. One major point especially mentioned by representatives from Kao is that they reject the religious interpretation of the conflict from 1999-2001 as promoted by the Tobelo district head and his supporters. Instead, they emphasise ethnic causes and struggles over territory and natural resources in the course of administrative restructuring. However, in contrast to Kao, representatives from Galela follow the Tobelo group’s religious interpretation of the conflict and share their perception of adat as a bridging force. Thus, they share Tobelo’s perception of the importance of adat. However, they refuse their efforts to homogenise local articulations of adat and demand respect for diversity and each community’s particularities.

15All critics from Galela and Kao criticise and refuse modernised forms of adat. Many of them are adat leaders and are, therefore, interested in and knowledgeable about what they regard as traditional adat ceremonies, manifestations and forms. They consider themselves the “true experts” (in adat) and claim to hold knowledge on “authentic” adat. Hibua Lamo critics stress rather the importance of the originality of adat forms, such as costumes, and underline diversity rather than uniformity of adat as promoted by the Tobelo group. The critics also refuse modernisation and active (re-)creation or “adjustment to present-day necessities”, such as the use of cement in the construction of traditional houses or the accommodation of adat costumes to “office needs”, as it is propagated by the Tobelo group. Some of them recognise change as an inevitable process, but reject its deliberate creating and shaping.

16Generally, Hibua Lamo critics agree with Tobelo activists that adat in Tobelo itself has almost disappeared, whereas it is still quite lively and visible in the regions outside town, especially in Kao. However, in their opinion, activists should draw on extant forms when strengthening adat. In this context, each community regards its own adat as the most original, most authentic one. Hibua Lamo critics admit that Tobelo activists visited, for example, the region of Kao to learn about adat in the aftermath of the conflict; but they feel that the adat implemented does not really draw on these visits and find themselves misquoted in publications. Some of these critics even speak of adat as “made up” (dibuat) and “invention” (rekayasa) by the Tobelo group and accuse them of “lying” and creating “myths” that are not “real” history.

17This modernised adat is often criticised for its “Tobelo centredness”. The Hibua Lamo critics blame the Tobelo group for authoritarian behaviour, enforcing an expansion of Tobelo adat by interfering in the internal affairs of other communities and attempts to erase non-Tobelo communities’ histories and wipe out their identities. This perception is strong, as Tobelo’s role as a focus of adat strengthening is fused with its position as a political-administrative centre. Whereas the Tobelo group is divided over the relation between governmental politics (dinas) and adat, Hibua Lamo critics agree on the necessity of carefully separating these spheres. It is difficult for them to see the synergies and positive effects of the double role of the district head. Most of the Hibua Lamo critics hold adat in high esteem and fear, therefore, that adat will be subordinated to governmental-political affairs or personal interests.

Ada to Overcome Religious Tensions

  • 12 According to scholars, Hibua Lamo or, in his former spelling, Saboea lamo (Campen 1883:309, cit. in (...)

18When talking about Hibua Lamo, Tobelo activists refer to the different meanings of the word. The first is the literal translation of the Tobelo word as “big house”, and refers to the traditional communal meeting house. The second one is a more metaphoric understanding of Hibua Lamo as a local philosophy and system of values – something that is inscribed in every Hibua Lamo member’s heart (Papilaya 2012:39-40). Related to this, Hibua Lamo, in its third connotation, refers to a social and spatial organisation based on this philosophy.12

19The house, therefore, is essential to the understanding of adat as a uniting force in North Halmahera. As Platenkamp analysed, in Tobelo, a house unites people of a common origin on a particular territory, endowing the members with a shared identity (1990:77). When Tobelo activists called for a strengthening of adat with its potential to overcome religious differences and unite people of different origins after the conflict, they advocated Hibua Lamo, seeing it metaphorically and physically as a house that creates a shared identity and a unity. The district head comments that the suitable approach to establish a feeling of solidarity

[…] is to re-establish mutual trust between local residents and establish a feeling of brotherhood and peace, because greed and suffering will not outdo love and the consciousness of brotherhood, of being of one blood and of one family in Tobelo, in this territory.
(Papilaya 2012:21; transl. S. M.)

20Therefore, for him, it is the call of an “upright consciousness” to resurrect Hibua Lamo culture (budaya) that is “about to moulder if one does not make it blossom”. This culture will create unity while also recognising and appreciating the existence of differences (district head in Papilaya 2012:22; transl. S. M.).

Hibua Lamo as Philosophy

21As briefly mentioned, Hibua Lamo literally means “big house”. The form and function of the traditional communal house in North Halmahera constitute the framework of the Hibua Lamo philosophy. There are two important features of a communal house in North Halmahera: One is the large shared centre of the house which constitutes a space for communication, interaction and conflict resolution for all families living in the different wings attached to the house (Duncan 2009:1088-1089). The second important feature is its octagonal form and the openness resulting from an absence of walls, symbolising openness in all cardinal directions (Papilaya 2012:41).

22This philosophy also has two facets: On the one hand, “Hibua Lamo is understood to function as a glue, a means of development and a force to unite spirits and bodies for communal prosperity” (ibid: 42; transl. S. M.) and, therefore, create a unity of Hibua Lamo people who share one common origin. On the other hand, Hibua Lamo is described as being able to incorporate people from outside into the community. The adat advisor stated that everybody is invited to the community like the wind that can enter the house from every direction. Everybody coming to the house or community is to be regarded as saudara, sibling, regardless of their religious, ethnic or cultural background, and every guest is to be treated like royalty. Thus, a spirit of “solidarity, familiarity, kinship, equality, and mutual respect” is created, both with people of the same origin and with migrants living in the region (ibid: 27). Hibua Lamo philosophy is a bearer of “love, truth, wisdom, and benevolence. The ancestors of Hibua Lamo have transmitted it to their descendants. It functions as a bearer of wisdom, as identity and universal blessing” (ibid: 28; transl. S. M.).

23Hibua Lamo philosophy, as it existed in the past and manifested itself as a cultural practice, has been transmitted orally. Since, according to the Tobelo group, adat had almost ceased to exist prior to the conflict, knowledge about values and their practical implementation had also receded in importance. Therefore, the Tobelo group strives for a reactivation of awareness of adat. They convey the philosophy of Hibua Lamo and its inherent values to North Halmahera’s population in two ways: by publications and by enactment. The district head favours the latter means of transmission. He underlines the fluidity of the concept and the process necessary to come to an encompassing understanding. He stated in an interview that he continues to become aware of new values to be added to the core of the philosophy. Therefore, he resists giving lectures or writing about it, but he tries himself to become a model and inspiration for others through his public behaviour. He presents himself as an embodiment of Hibua Lamo values and behaviour. He hopes that more and more people will follow his example and act with patience, respect and humility. In his function as the host and moderator of KMAN IV in Tobelo in April 2012, he successfully soothed the participants’ emotions in many sessions by reminding people of “adat behaviour”, by deploying his charisma and by just being calm himself. Although he led the congress as district head and adat leader, he also served guests by providing beverages, cleaning the floor of rubbish and equipping speakers with microphones. By doing so, he enacted the basic “ideologies” of simplicity (kesederhanaan) and honour (kehormatan) and gave an example of the fundamental values of Hibua Lamo philosophy.

  • 13 The most prominent examples are Banari’s paper on cultural values, Kuat’s publication on adat value (...)

24These values are further described in the Tobelo group’s publications as affection (kasih saying), truth and justice (kebenaran and keadilan), sincerity and concern/compassion (ketulusan and kepedulian), and mutual assistance (kepelayanan), and partnership or unity (persekutuan). This kind of documentation constitutes the second strategy that is employed to convey Hibua Lamo philosophy and values to community members. In creating it, members of the Tobelo group break down the “universal” philosophy of Hibua Lamo and carefully select specific values and guiding principles which they consider crucial for adequate everyday behaviour. The results are published in co-operation with the local government.13 This documentation focuses on the intellectual understanding and direct dissemination of the philosophy. It both complements the district head’s way of bringing adat into public view, and, in its codifying character, also opposes his perception of Hibua Lamo philosophy as something that one can only understand incrementally over a period of years.

25The Hibua Lamo critics neither explicitly use the term Hibua Lamo philosophy, nor do they analytically differentiate between values, ideology and principles, as the Tobelo group does. They just speak of adat. Adat, in their opinion, is a guideline for everyday life and social interactions and embodies values. Here, their views show similarities with the district head’s perception of “behaving as adat people do”. When asked about guiding values, they refer to similar concepts as those highlighted by the Tobelo group. All adat leaders underline the importance of mutual appreciation and respect, as well as politeness and familiarity, as fundamental values in their respective communities; they even invoke the same examples of the implementation of these values in everyday life. In line with their criticism of Tobelo centredness and their perception of having the most original and authentic culture, most Hibua Lamo critics refer only to their own communities’ values. They rarely refer to similarities in philosophy which they might share with other communities, and sometimes even describe their values as particularly outstanding. With regard to the implementation of values in daily life, most critics agree with Tobelo activists that awareness of adat has declined in times of “modernisation”. Therefore, they state that families and schools should play a crucial role in transmitting these values to the younger generation as they are necessary for harmonious social interaction. Here, the Hibua Lamo critics advocate the more intensive teaching of muatan lokal, a school subject in which the students are taught “local contents” (such as local language and customs). In their opinion, this can become a means to transmit each particular community’s values, history and language to children and, thus, maintain them as an integral part of their identity.

Hibua Lamo as Regional Unity14

  • 14 The Tobelo group often refers to the unity as “hoana ngimoi”, “ten hoana”.

26According to the Tobelo group, Hibua Lamo, as a regional and social entity, unites ten indigenous communities or hoana in the “big house” of North Halmahera. The Tobelo word hoana has a range of meanings: It can refer to descent, a community, an ethnic group, or just to residents of a particular territory. Four of these ten hoana are located in Tobelo town, two in the regions north of the town (Galela and Loloda) and four in the southern region of Kao. Accordingly, the definition of a hoana, its internal constitution and its boundaries vary. According to the Tobelo group’s understanding, belonging to a hoana in Tobelo town is defined by origin and, thus, descent, whereas for Galela and Kao, they define membership by residence in a particular territory.

  • 15 The common origin at Lake Lina and their dispersal up to the current partition into ten hoana is do (...)
  • 16 See Dinas Pariwisata dan Kebudayaan Kabupaten Halmahera Utara 2013a.
  • 17 See Dinas Pariwisata dan Kebudayaan Kabupaten Halmahera Utara 2013b. Notably, this establishment is (...)

27The suggested unity of these ten hoana derives from a shared historical origin. Their ancestors once settled together at Lake Lina, south of Tobelo town. In the course of history, they moved away because of changing living conditions, natural disasters and internal social conflicts, settling in different places in North Halmahera and creating new communities. The Tobelo group seeks to trace and write down this history of fissions and expansion by referring to academic sources and oral histories.15 Above all, Hibua Lamo is meant to promote peaceful relations in North Halmahera. Today, Hibua Lamo is more or less geographically congruent with the district of North Halmahera. The unity of Hibua Lamo is reinforced by common adat institutions and an adat leader representing all ten hoana at the top of the hierarchy: the jiko makolano (“Ruler of the Bay”). Today, the district head holds this title. Historically the term refers to a chief of a political domain or a “district” rather than an adat leader, since this title was given to well-deserving officials by the sultan of Ternate in order to ensure the loyalty of the chief and his community (Fraassen 1980:90; Duncan 2009:1092). The title had been obsolete for a long time but was brought back into use after an old woman had the revelation that the jiko makolano would return in the person of the current district head. In 2013, he established an adat court and its members were appointed.16 They were tasked with formulating adat regulations and functioning as an organ of jurisdiction.17 Complementary to this encompassing Hibua Lamo structure, Tobelo activists pushed forward the strengthening of internal adat institutions in each hoana. This reestablishing and revitalisation of adat structures was especially urged upon the communities prior to the KMAN IV in April 2012.

28It is precisely this spatial and social unity of Hibua Lamo that is controversial for Hibua Lamo critics. Although some of them acknowledge and respect endeavours to apply adat as a bridging force, most of them deny an encompassing spatial and social unity and refuse to acknowledge its importance for unification. The most contested elements are the common origin from Lake Lina, as suggested by the Tobelo group, the classification into hoana, the position of an encompassing adat leader, jiko makolano, and, last but not least, the filling of this position by the district head.

29Both Galela and Kao representatives deny their descent from Lake Lina. Most of them argue on behalf of oral histories or with reference to the works of Adnan Amal (2010a; 2010b), a Galela-born lawyer who published on Maluku’s history, to counter the Tobelo group’s version of history. The most sophisticated endeavour was undertaken by activists from Galela, who initiated a meeting of respected adat leaders to discuss the Galela people’s origin. With the support of a social scientist teaching in Yogyakarta, the outcome of the discussion was combined with an interpretation of academic writings (both local and international) in a paper explicitly challenging the Tobelo activists’ publications (Anonymous ca. 2012).

  • 18 AMAN membership of indigenous communities located in North Halmahera was initiated primarily by the (...)

30Critics from Galela and Kao also contest the naming of the ten communities as “hoana”. Prior to registration in AMAN, every group used its own particular terminology both to conceptualise and to name the community. However, in order to create unity, administratively and in other ways, the Tobelo group, as the initiating force18 of AMAN membership, started to establish hoana as a common term for all communities.

31Hibua Lamo critics, by disclaiming common origin, also challenge the unity of the ten hoana. They prefer to position themselves as partners (mitra) rather than members of Hibua Lamo in the sense of the Tobelo group. An interviewee from Kao maintained that the four communities in Kao indeed constitute a unity of their own. He argued that they were once under the reign of the Sultan of Ternate who appointed one official, a particular jiko makoano, for the region of Kao. Kao should, therefore, relate as a partner to Tobelo and, similarly, both jiko mako (l) anos should be equal (setara) to each other. Kao representatives also reject the term hoana, and some, furthermore, even the names for their communities or the translation and historical explanation of these names. Their self-identification contradicts the identification by Tobelo activists. This leads to a perception that they are neither equal members in Hibua Lamo nor equal partners with Tobelo groups. Instead, their histories and, thus, their identifications are marginalised or neglected.

  • 19 Others speak of soa. These different perceptions exemplify the contestation and space for interpret (...)

32The Hibua Lamo critics from Galela argue differently, but with the same outcome. For them, the difference in language is the most important indicator of the differing origins of Galela and Tobelo people (Anonymous ca. 2012:44). Furthermore, they state that their own concept of a communal house is bangsaha and not Hibua Lamo. Nevertheless, they concede that they are living in North Halmahera and, therefore, in the area that the Tobelo group defines as that of Hibua Lamo; but they insist that they do not belong to Hibua Lamo. They say that Galela/Loloda does not consist of two hoana but of two doku19 whose boundaries are not congruent with those defined by the Tobelo group. This also explains why the Galela communities were often represented in Hibua Lamo meetings of the ten hoana by sub-district heads who were appointed as hoana coordinators and not by adat elders or leaders. Therefore – like Kao – they consider themselves not as members of Hibua Lamo, but as autonomous partners.

33Critics from both regions also reject the idea that they live in the realm of an encompassing jiko makolano or are his subjects. They accept the district head’s administrative authority, but refuse his claim of adat leadership that will “evolve a hegemony of one group over another that is, due to historical circumstances, in a politically weaker position” (Anonymous ca. 2012:45; transl. S. M.). Some do this by challenging the historical evidence of such a title; others with reference to Tobelo lacking a bay – an argument countered by Tobelo activists by hinting to North Halmahera’s shape of a bay. Many critics fear Tobelo’s political supremacy and their subordination to its definition of adat domains.

Hibua Lamo’s Material Expressions

34The third element of Hibua Lamo adat I analyse is adat in its materialised form. Tobelo activists regard these manifestations as essential for the promotion of Hibua Lamo adat. In “Kharisma Hibua Lamo” they highlight the development of the cultural facilities (pembangunan fasilitas budaya) pushed forward by the district head, such as the communal house and their “Batik Hibua Lamo”, as one out of eight important steps in his charismatic leadership to strengthen adat (Papilaya 2012:87).

35The decision to build a communal house in Tobelo town was one of the Tobelo activists’first steps to promote adat. As mentioned above, the term for the traditional communal house “Hibua Lamo” stands for many different things, including a communal house as well as a philosophy. Tobelo’s communal house, inaugurated in 2007, was meant to integrate these dimensions and become a place for meetings and conflict mediation in order to promote peaceful coexistence. Today, the communal house functions as a venue for carrying out “traditional ceremonies” (upacara adat) and “meetings of leaders with their people”. It is a symbol of “unity and reconciliation” (Dinas Pariwisata dan Kebudayaan Kabupaten Halmahera Utara.). In one of their publications, the Tobelo group explains the house as a “symbol of kinship (kekerabatan), a meeting centre and a place to honour Hibua Lamo values, the spiritual values they inherited from their ancestors (leluhur)” (Tobelo Post 2009; transl. S. M.).

36The house is constructed in a traditional way and draws on a few examples still existing, such as the one on Kakara, a small island off the coast of Tobelo, which is regarded as one of the adat strongholds of Hibua Lamo. It has an octagonal floor area and, thus, adopts a fundamental architectural feature shared by different hoana in Hibua Lamo (Namotemo 2009:19). The newly built communal house in Tobelo has been adjusted to present-day circumstances, as it should function as the communal house of all Hibua Lamo communities and enable meetings of North Halmahera’s inhabitants. In contrast to its historical model, it has exterior walls. It has four entrances, in order to be congruent with the value of openness as the elementary feature of Hibua Lamo philosophy, one in each cardinal direction. Moreover, it has been furnished in a modern style (Papilaya 2012:42).

37Meanwhile, the “Hibua Lamo” in the centre of Tobelo town has also become a tourist attraction with the tourist information centre next to it. Its importance is further highlighted by the fact that the government of North Halmahera decided to make it the emblem of the district.

38For Tobelo activists, the communal house in Tobelo, constructed in the centre of Hibua Lamo territory, should occupy a special emotional place in the heart of Hibua Lamo people, too. However, Hibua Lamo critics rarely refer to the function of the communal house spontaneously. As it is located in Tobelo town, they say, its importance is restricted only to Tobelo. When asked about the architecture of the building, the Hibua Lamo critics elaborate on regional differences in style and, most notably, disapprove of its modifications for practical purposes.

Conclusions

  • 20 The communal house in Tobelo was inaugurated on April 19, 2007. The birthday, thus, primarily refer (...)
  • 21 In 2012, the date was chosen intentionally as the day for the opening of the KMAN IV. In 2011, a pa (...)

39The analysis above examines the shaping and deployment of adat by a charismatic Tobelo leader and his supporters as a means to unite people of different religious affiliations. In a period of only ten years, a broad knowledge and understanding of Hibua Lamo both as a philosophy, a system of values and a form of spatial and social organisation has been established among the inhabitants of North Halmahera. This shared knowledge and understanding is based on a narrative of common origin and shared traditions and rituals. The most important event is the annual celebration and commemoration on April 19 of the Peace Declaration of 2001. This declaration marked the onset of an intensified promotion of adat and, thus, is a constitutive moment in Hibua Lamo’s recent history. Since 2007, this date is marked as HUT Hibualamo, as the birthday of Hibua Lamo20, and celebrated with a parade through town, cultural festivals and competitions.21 This yearly commemoration reminds North Halmahera’s population of the violence that has recently shaken the region and simultaneously highlights the importance of Hibua Lamo adat for living peacefully together.

Rehearsal ritual: Revitalised rituals are an important element of Tobelo activists’ endeavours to strengthen adat. These ceremonies are often arranged by the district head’s adat advisor. The picture shows the traditional war dance called cakalele that is performed with a spear and a salawaku, a shield. The rehearsal shown here is for a ritual that had not been performed for decades; it took place in May 2012 with great media attendance.
Photo: Serena Müller 2012

40Endeavours to strengthen adat and promote a common identity and history of Hibua Lamo require negotiation, selection and emphasis upon certain elements and variant forms of adat over others. Different interpretations express particular actors’ interests and motivations. The negotiation and especially the contested character of Hibua Lamo unveil different perceptions of the connection between the political-administrative domain (dinas) and adat and of the legitimate authority to talk about, define and enact adat. Most representatives of the Tobelo group perceive adat as flexible and dynamic. For them, adat is constantly transformed and can be or has to be actively adjusted to changing conditions. Critics of this perspective refer to another concept of adat. According to them, adat is something static, “traditional” and has to be “authentic”. Therefore, they demand historic evidence of adat symbols, institutions and common history. In general, they reject active, goal-oriented intervention.

41The economic, political, and symbolic resources available to actors in negotiations are distributed unequally. Members of the Tobelo group are embedded in the state-administrative as well as in the adat domains. Thus, they draw on governmental and other public resources to carry out research on adat-related issues and history, hold discussions and meetings, promote the results of these meetings as an “official” version of adat and history, and disseminate it throughout North Halmahera. This powerful position facilitates a quick dissemination of Hibua Lamo philosophy and unity. Several Hibua Lamo critics are also civil servants, though subordinate to the district head in rank, and, in general, because of their rural location. They are, therefore, in a less powerful position in these negotiations and face difficulties in making their voices heard; they feel disrespected. The powerful implementation and greater visibility of the Tobelo group’s adat endeavours is perceived as an attempt to create an adat hegemony in North Halmahera by critics (Anonymous ca. 2012:45) with its centre in Tobelo town and a rural periphery.

42Most critics do not challenge the district head’s authority as an elected representative in the state administration, but they criticise the unclear distinction between his two roles in adat and dinas. The establishment of hoana and an encompassing adat organisation, as well as the effort to make the communities reestablish their internal adat institutions, expands the political-administrative power of the district head to the domain of adat and, therefore, interferes in particular communities’ adat.

43Up to now, the Hibua Lamo critics have not been organised as a group; they act rather as individuals when they challenge the Tobelo group’s dealing with adat. Most people are indifferent about adat strengthening. Furthermore, the shift, which Tobelo hopes to effect, of people with a shared adat instead of with their particular religions has not yet been accomplished (Duncan 2009:1081). Many people still think in categories of religion. Danius’ (2012) study of local interpretations of election results, party politics and the appointment of governmental employees shows that interreligious envy and mistrust are still pervasive. It remains questionable, therefore, whether Hibua Lamo can serve to bridge the differences among religious and social factions in the long-term.

Notes

1 The island of Makean was hit by a volcanic eruption in 1975. Therefore, many people migrated to Kao (Hondt and Sangaji 2011:4).

2 Census 2010 (BPS 2010).

3 “Region” refers to the four areas distinguished by North Halmahera’s government: Tobelo, Kao, Galela, and Loloda (see also Dinas Pariwisata dan Kebudayaan Kabupaten Halmahera Utara).

4 The field research in North Halmahera between April and May 2012 was part of a research project on indigeneity in Indonesia in the context of the project on “Cultural heritage between sovereignty of indigenous groups, the state and international organisations in Indonesia” (directed by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin of the Interdisciplinary Research Unit, “The Constitution of Cultural Property”, at the University of Göttingen, funded by the DFG).

5 The term “indigenous community” is here used as the translation of the Indonesian term masyarakat adat (see the Introduction by Hauser-Schäublin and the chapter by Arizona and Cahyadi in this volume). The crucial criterion for becoming “indigenous” is self-identification. Based on this self-identification some community leaders applied for AMAN membership. As some respondents emphasised, the ten communities discussed in this chapter were encouraged to take this step by what I call the “Tobelo group”. The group’s endeavour to promote an encompassing regional adat by uniting them under the umbrella of Hibua Lamo is strongly interconnected with their membership of AMAN and engagement in the indigenous discourse.

6 These are only two out of eight important roles (peran) of the district head mentioned in “Kharisma Hibua Lamo”, a book paying tribute to his charismatic leadership and appreciating his merits in the establishment of Hibua Lamo as a uniting element in North Halmahera (Papilaya 2012:87).

7 This council is called Dewan AMAN Nasional (DAMANNAS). Together with the Secretary-General (Sekjen), the highest representative of AMAN, the council functions as the highest decision-making body for the alliance (see AMAN 2012c).

8 For further information on the college’s history and aims see the college’s website (Admin poltekpadamara) (2012).

9 The monument “O libuku iata ma akere” (empat penjuru mata air, the four directions of the springs of water) consists of an octagonal basin and four stairs leading up to a second circular shaped basin with four pillars on top. The construction of the stairs alludes to the four cardinal directions fundamental to North Halmahera’s philosophy. During the congress a “ritual of the archipelagic waters” (Ritual Air Nusantara) took place. For this purpose, indigenous delegates had brought water from wellsprings located in their communities’ ancestral territory. These waters were merged in the monument. This is meant to symbolise the unification of indigenous endeavours into a more promising nationwide struggle for indigenous rights and recognition.

10 He used the octagonal form and equipped it with cultural emblems and symbols. He used red and yellow/gold very lavishly to symbolise the struggle and fame of the kings and simultaneously prosperity of the society. Furthermore, he decorated it with the salawaku, the traditional shield, symbolising skilfulness, heroism and peace (Papilaya 2012:51).

11 He was member of North Halmahera’s parliament as a representative of the Golkar party until he, the district head’s wife and another person active in adat strengthening in North Halmahera, were accused of having violated party bylaws and replaced by Golkar in March 2013 prior to the election of the governor (Marsaoly 2013). The district head (also Golkar) ran for Governor in this election as an independent candidate, although Golkar had officially nominated another person (Sidik 2013).

12 According to scholars, Hibua Lamo or, in his former spelling, Saboea lamo (Campen 1883:309, cit. in Platenkamp 1993:69) or Laboewah-lamo (Aantekeningen 1856:224, cit. ibid) is also rendered as the name of one of the communities residing at Lake Lina (Platenkamp 1993:69, ibid 1988:129; Leirissa 1990:126). Today, this community is identified with the hoana Gura.

13 The most prominent examples are Banari’s paper on cultural values, Kuat’s publication on adat values and their implication in North Halmahera (both published in Duan (2009), a book documenting the close connection between the district head and Hibua Lamo) and Papilaya’s explanations (2012:27-43).

14 The Tobelo group often refers to the unity as “hoana ngimoi”, “ten hoana”.

15 The common origin at Lake Lina and their dispersal up to the current partition into ten hoana is documented in Papilaya 2012:53-59 and Yesaya B. et al. 2012.

16 See Dinas Pariwisata dan Kebudayaan Kabupaten Halmahera Utara 2013a.

17 See Dinas Pariwisata dan Kebudayaan Kabupaten Halmahera Utara 2013b. Notably, this establishment is legitimised by a district head’s decree (430/132/HU/2013) and, therefore, undertaken in his function as part of state administration and not primarily as adat leader.

18 AMAN membership of indigenous communities located in North Halmahera was initiated primarily by the district head’s adat advisor, who got in contact with Jaringan Baileo Maluku, a Maluku-based network committed to the struggle for indigenous rights, the recognition of adat institutions and community development. Presently, AMAN engagement is restricted to Tobelo groups and the community of Pagu, which established close relationships with the provincial and national offices of AMAN independently of Tobelo and is focusing on reclaiming its ancestral territory that is used by a gold mine.

19 Others speak of soa. These different perceptions exemplify the contestation and space for interpretation.

20 The communal house in Tobelo was inaugurated on April 19, 2007. The birthday, thus, primarily refers to the communal house, but by linguistic sameness also to the establishment of Hibua Lamo as a regional unity.

21 In 2012, the date was chosen intentionally as the day for the opening of the KMAN IV. In 2011, a parade showing Hibua Lamo’s diversity was organised and a Hibua Lamo cultural festival is held almost every year (2008, 2010, 2011, and 2013).

Table des illustrations

Légende Jiko Makolano: The district head’s election campaign poster illustrates the blurred boundaries between the adat and the administrative sphere. It merges the spatial and social order of Hibua Lamo with the state’s division of the province.Photo: Serena Müller 2012
URL http://books.openedition.org/gup/docannexe/image/181/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 100k
Légende The monument Air Nusantara in Tobelo. Holy water from all over Indonesia was merged in the monument during the opening ceremony of KMAN IV in April 2012. Tobelo activists borrowed from Hibua Lamo philosophy in its construction, especially the importance of the number eight and the cardinal points.Photo: Serena Müller 2012
URL http://books.openedition.org/gup/docannexe/image/181/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 72k
Légende Rehearsal ritual: Revitalised rituals are an important element of Tobelo activists’ endeavours to strengthen adat. These ceremonies are often arranged by the district head’s adat advisor. The picture shows the traditional war dance called cakalele that is performed with a spear and a salawaku, a shield. The rehearsal shown here is for a ritual that had not been performed for decades; it took place in May 2012 with great media attendance.Photo: Serena Müller 2012
URL http://books.openedition.org/gup/docannexe/image/181/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 130k

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