Indigenous Film Index: Asia



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culture groups


Adivasi


Adivasis is the collective name used for the many Indigenous peoples of India. The term Adivasi derives from the Hindi word ‘adi’ which means of earliest times or from the beginning and ‘vasi’ meaning inhabitant or resident. The term was coined in the 1930s, largely a consequence of a political movement to forge a sense of identity among the various Indigenous peoples of India. Officially Adivasis are termed scheduled tribes, but this is a legal and term, which differs from state to state and area to area, and therefore excludes some groups who might be considered indigenous.

Source:
Minority Rights Group

Learn more:
Adivasi – Wikipedia

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Akha


The Akha are an ethnic group who live in small villages at higher elevations in the mountains of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, North East India and Yunnan Province in China. In all these countries they are an ethnic minority. The population of the Akha today is roughly 400,000. They made their way from China into Southeast Asia during the early 20th century. Civil war in Burma and Laos resulted in an increased flow of Akha immigrants and there are now 80,000 people living in Thailand’s northern provinces of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Akha Hill Tribe – green-trails.com

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FILMS


Ata Tana 'ai


The mythic histories of the ceremonial domains of Tana ‘Ai recount the arrival of ancestors who founded the Tana ‘Ai clans (sukun ) and established Tana ‘Ai society by the delegation of rights to land and rituals to later ancestors. Direct contact with Europeans came later to the Ata Tana ‘Ai than to other peoples of the regency of Sikka. Dutch records to the year 1905 rarely mention the Tana ‘Ai region, and Dutch colonial officers began making irregular patrols in the mountains only in the 1930s. Sovereignty over Tana ‘Ai was, until the Dutch confirmed the present boundary in 1904, a point of dispute between the rajas of Larantuka (East Flores) and Sikka. Until the 1970s, the principal medium of contact between the Ata Tana ‘Ai and outsiders was the Catholic Church, whose mission was staffed primarily by European priests. Since 1970, the regency government has established roads, markets, and schools in the interior of the region.

Source:
Encyclopedia.com

Learn more:
Tana Wai Brama: A Study – Australian National University

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Bunong (Phnong)


The Bunong are an Indigenous group who live in the highlands of Cambodia, usually in Mondulkiri Province. They tend to be culturally distinct from the Khmer (the majority group in Cambodia) although this cultural distinction is decreasing over time due to various factors. These factors include the “Khmerization” of the Bunong during King Sihanouk’s political period (particularly between 1954 and 1970), the gradual diaspora of young Bunong, the migration of lowland Khmer into Bunong Villages, and of course, the ever-present introduction of technology and media.

Source:
fieldstudies.org

Learn more:
The Bunong People – Wikipedia

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Buryats


The Buryats are a Mongolian people numbering at 516,476, comprise one of the two largest indigenous groups in Siberia, the other being the Yakuts. The majority of the Buryat population lives in their titular homeland, the Republic of Buryatia, a federal subject of Russia near Lake Baikal. Buryats also live in Ust-Orda Buryat Okrug (Irkutsk Oblast) to the west of Buryatia and Agin-Buryat Okrug (Zabaykalsky Krai) to the east of Buryatia as well as in northeastern Mongolia and in Inner Mongolia, China. They form the major northern subgroup of the Mongols.

Buryats share many customs with other Mongols, including nomadic herding, and erecting gers for shelter. Today the majority of Buryats live in and around Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Buryat Republic, although many still follow a more traditional lifestyle in the countryside. They speak a central Mongolic language called Buryat. UNESCO’s 2010 edition of the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger classifies the Buryat language as “severely endangered”.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
An Introduction to the Buryat People – Culture Trip

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Chhara


Historically, Chharas comprised a group of nomadic people in India.  When the British attempted to maintain the colonial regime in India, they utilized theories of crime being hereditary to undermine these nomadic communities as criminal.  In 1871, the Criminal Tribes Act made legal the enforcement of restriction and harsh punishment for members of criminal tribes, punishments quite distinct from other non-criminal tribe members.  In 1959, the Habitual Offenders Act replaced the CTA, and while there was discussion of rehabilitative processes for tribes known as criminal, this act only further allowed police the opportunity to identify these groups, target them, and further marginalize them.  This act remains in practice today, and so, rather than have any protection by the government, there is no guarantee that members of these groups, known as Denotified Tribes (DNTs) will receive jobs or education, often forcing them into illegal practices, i.e liquor brewing in the dry state of Gujarat.  The theory that people can inherit innate criminality has withstood the test of time and despite the revocation of the CTA, formerly nomadic peoples and current DNTs are considered criminal by nature and have been unofficially deemed second-class citizens.  The formerly nomadic Chharas are known by other names throughout the country, including Sansis, Kanjar, Kanjarbhat, and Adodiyas.

Source:
budantheatre.org

Learn more:
Life of a Chhara – newsclick.in 

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Dayak


The Dayak are one of the native groups of Borneo. It is a loose term for over 200 riverine and hill-dwelling ethnic groups, located principally in the central and southern interior of Borneo, each with its own dialect, customs, laws, territory, and culture, although common distinguishing traits are readily identifiable. Dayak languages are categorised as part of the Austronesian languages. The Dayak were animist in belief; however, since the 19th century there has been mass conversion to Christianity as well as Islam due to the spreading of foreign religions.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Dayak – Minority Rights Group

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Highland Thai people


The highland Indigenous peoples of Thailand live in the mountainous areas of northern and western Thailand. As many as 20 different indigenous communities, referred to the government as ‘hill tribes’, totaling 1 million people according to some estimates, live in Thailand and include, among the more numerous, Akha, Karen, Lahu, Lisu, Meo (Hmong) and Mien. They are all distinct cultural and linguistic groups: some have been established in this part of Thailand for centuries and live at lower altitudes (like Karen), while others (such as Hmong and Akha) are newer arrivals, having arrived from Burma, China and Laos from about the nineteenth century. While some such as Karen have converted to Christianity or Buddhism, many others continue to practice a form of animism. Most of the indigenous populations living in the remote upland areas practice subsistence farming or swidden agriculture, and until the 1990s opium cultivation was a major source of income for many of these communities.

Source:
Minority Rights Group

Learn more:
Hill Tribe (Thailand) – Wikipedia
Indigenous Peoples of Thailand – Asia Pacific Human Rights Information Center 

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Hyolmo (Yolmopa)


Hyolmo is one of the 59 Indigenous peoples recognized by Nepal government, residing in the Helambu region. They famously call themselves Yolmopa or Hyolmo. They have been residing in the region called Helambu, directly north of the Kathmandu valley, bordering with Tibet. The Hyolmo region is said to have found by prominent Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhav), during 8th century. They follow Buddhism. The term Hyolmo is made up of two words—‘Hyol’, which means a place or area which surrounded by majestic mountains and ‘Mo’ means a goddess. The meaning is that the community living in the region protected or preserved by Goddess namely Jyomo and Yangri. Yolmopa are animist and nature worshippers. Yolmopa have a distinct culture, rituals, customs and lifestyles.

Source:
indigenousvoice.com

Learn more:
Yolmo people – Wikipedia
Rhythms of Dying, of Living – Harvard Divinity School

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Lumad


The Lumad are a group of Austronesian Indigenous people in the southern Philippines. It is a Cebuano term meaning “native” or “indigenous”. The term is short for Katawhang Lumad (Literally: “indigenous people”), the autonym officially adopted by the delegates of the Lumad Mindanao Peoples Federation (LMPF) founding assembly on 26 June 1986 at the Guadalupe Formation Center, Balindog, Kidapawan, Cotabato, Philippines.

The Southern island of the Philippines is home to a substantial part of the country’s Indigenous population, estimating to about 15% of the Philippine’s total population of 100 million.

Source:
Wikipedia 

Learn more:
Lumad in Mindanao – ncca.gov.ph

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Madari (Rajasthani)


Madari are a nomadic tribe, popularly known as snake-charmers. They are believed to be the offspring of Rajput father and Muslim mother. Their verbal interaction takes place in Gujarati and Hindi language. This tribal populace can be examined with a visit to Gujarat and the tribal villages in Assam. Their tribal designation is that of a Denotified Tribe.

Source:
tribes-of-india.blogspot.com

Learn more:
Draft List of Denotified Tribes – Government of India

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Nenets


The Nenets also known as Samoyed, are a Samoyedic ethnic group native to northern arctic Russia, Russian Far North. According to the latest census in 2010, there were 44,857 Nenets in the Russian Federation, most of them living in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Nenets Autonomous Okrugand Taymyrsky Dolgano-Nenetsky District stretching along the coastline of the Arctic Ocean near the Arctic Circle between Kola and Taymyr peninsulas. The Nenets people speak either the Tundra or Forest Nenets languages, which are mutually unintelligible. In the Russian Federation they have a status of indigenous small-numbered peoples.Today, the Nenets people face numerous challenges from the state and oil and gas companies that threaten the environment and their way of life. As a result, many cite a rise in locally based activism.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
The Nenets of Siberia – The Atlantic
Nenets – BBC

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Rabari (Desai)


The Rabari, also Desai, are an Indigenous tribal caste of nomadic cattle and camel herders and shepherds that live throughout northwest India, primarily in the states of Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan. Other Rabari groups also live in Pakistan, especially in the region of the Sindh Desert. The word “Rabari” translates as “outsiders”, a fair description of their primary occupation and status within Indian society.

Source:
Atlas of Humanity

Learn more:
Rabari People of Northwest India – Kashgar.com.au
Rabari – Wikipedia

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Roti


The Rotinese have long taken their name from some version of their Indonesian island’s name and combined this with a dialect word for “man” (Atahori Rote, Hataholi Lote). The principal name for Roti in ritual language is “Lote do Kale,” and the expression for “man” is Hataholi do Dae Hena. The Rotinese insist that Rote or Roti is a Portuguese imposition.

Source:
Encyclopedia.com

Learn more:
Performing Sasandu-Accompanied Song – Smithsonian/National Museum of Asian Art
Rotenese people – Wikipedia

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Tau Humba (Sumba)


Sumba People are the inhabitants of Sumba Island. They refer to themselves as Tau Humba. The Sumbese have been able to retain much of their culture despite foreign influences that arrived long ago on the Lesser Sunda Islands. The traditional religion of the Marapu region, which includes both ancestral worship and deity worship is still very much alive among the Sumbese society. Marapu is the philosophical center of Sumbese cultural expression and includes customary ceremonies, traditional places of worship (umaratu), traditional architecture, decorative carvings and textiles with its fashion styles, as well as its jewelry and weapons.

Source:
Atlas of Humanity

Learn more:
Sumba people – encyclo.co.uk
Sumba people – Wikipedia

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Tibetan


The Tibetan people are Indigenous to Tibet and surrounding areas stretching from Central Asia in the North and West to Myanmar and China Proper in the East. Recent genetic studies indicate that the ancestors of the Tibetan people diverged from the ancestors of the Han Chinese about 5,000–6,000 years ago, and migrated south and west into the Himalayas, mingling with another population group from Central Asia before spreading over Tibet.

Source:
New World Encyclopedia

Learn more:
Tibetan people – Wikipedia
Are Tibetans Indigenous – Llakar Diaries

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Yup'ik


Yup’iks, are a Yupik people who reside along the coast of the Chukchi Peninsula in the far northeast of the Russian Federation and on St. Lawrence Island in Alaska. They speak Central Siberian Yupik (also known as Yuit), a Yupik language of the Eskimo–Aleut family of languages. Their self-designation is Yupighyt (йупигыт) meaning “true people”.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Yup’ik – New World Encyclopedia
Siberian Yupik – Alaska Native Language Center

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