Resilience and flexibility: History of hunter-gatherers’ relationships with their neighbors in BorneoResilience and flexibility: History of hunter-gatherers’ relationships with their neighbors in BorneoAA00442310 <PART 2> Socio-Cultural Relationships with Farmers and Merchants
200 , 2016-12-08 , National Museum of Ethnology
This article explores the relationships between settled hunter-gatherers and their neighbors in Central Borneo. Most previous studies have examined the relationships between Penan/Punan and farmers in Borneo. In these studies, interethnic relations are described mainly as patron-client relationships, based on their forest products trade. However, hunter-gatherers who lived in the middle reaches of the rivers could have more frequent contact with more numerous neighboring groups. In other words, these groups have a different interaction model from the Penan/Punans who lived in the upper reaches of rivers. In addition, the contemporary relationships between settled hunters and neighbors, including Chinese, have not been well argued. Therefore, this article aims to explore the plural ethnic relations between settled hunter-gatherers and Chinese, as well as other ethnic groups. It describes the Sihan, minority settled hunter-gatherers living in the upper Rajang River of Malaysian Borneo. Two points are discussed using field data, including oral history, which the author has collected since 2003, and the government gazette. The first point is the historical plural inter-ethnic relations of the Sihan. When living along the middle Rajang River during the 19th century, the Sihan had daily close relationships with Lugat, Bekatan and Lisum. On the other hand, they had been embroiled in Iban headhunting and political conflict by Kayan. Economically, the Sihan had trade relations with Chinese since the 19th century. The second point examined in this article concerns the change of interethnic relations in contemporary life. The Sihan have strong economic relations with Chinese. Most of them work for the Chinese and live in rental houses owned by Chinese in Belaga Town. On the other hand, Sihan have marital ties with various ethnic groups. As a result, it discusses how individuals have diversified relationships with their neighbors.