Help Communities in Borneo Protect their Heritage

 
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Oct 14, 2012

Discovering our History

Village elder who told the story of Buayan
Village elder who told the story of Buayan's name

Towards the end of 2005, as part of the Community Researchers Team from the Buayan-Kionop area in Ulu Papar, we were trained by the Global Diversity Foundation how to conduct research on the history of Buayan. We held interviews and documented the stories told by our village elders.

Many among the younger generation in Ulu Papar do not know much about our history. As community researchers, we felt it was our responsibility to change this situation, which is the reason behind the exercise to collect and document the history of our community - to preserve the cultural heritage that is unique to Ulu Papar. Our history is what defines our identity as the original inhabitants of Ulu Papar. 

One of our interviewees was Puan Linggui Lunduan, from Buayan village, who told us the story of how Buayan got its name. This is how the story goes....

“A long time ago, Buayan experienced a 7-year drought that dried up the river that runs through the village. However, there was one section, a deep part of the river where fish liked to gather, that escaped this predicament. Unfortunately, this was not accessible by humans or animals because it was protected by a large river turtle that blocked the way with its body. Members from our community made many attempts but no one succeeded because the river turtle never left this area. The river turtle’s name was Suyan, a name bestowed on it because of how amazed our community was with the situation. After many failed attempts, someone offered a sogit (local term for offering) in the form of an egg to the river turtle. Upon receiving this, the river turtle made some room so that water could be drawn from the river. Since then, whenever a member of the community wanted to get some water, that person would offer a sogit to the river turtle."

This is how Buayan got its name.

* the interview was conducted in the native Dusun language, and translated by community researchers to Bahasa Malaysia.

Community researchers at work
Community researchers at work
Scenic part of a river that runs through Buayan
Scenic part of a river that runs through Buayan

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Project Leader

Susannah McCandless

GDF International Program Director
Bristol, Vermont United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Help Communities in Borneo Protect their Heritage