Introduction / History
The Aneuk Jamee are found in the southern part of the western coastline of Aceh province on the island of Sumatera. They tend to live around the small bays and on the low plains hemmed in by the Bukit Barisan mountain range. These areas are primarily in West Aceh Regency in the four districts of Tapak Tuan, Samadua, Sawang and Labuhan Haji. Smaller numbers of Aneuk Jamee live in South Aceh Regency in the three districts of Johan Pahlawan, Kaway XVI and Kuala. One group of Aneuk Jamee calling themselves the Ba'apo live farther south in Simpang Kiri District, Singkil Regency. The name Aneuk Jamee in the Aceh language means "offspring of guests" or "newcomer". The name refers to Minangkabau people from the Lubuk Sikaping, Pariaman, Rao and Pasaman areas farther south who began migrating to the area in the 17th century. Gradually, they settled among the Aceh people in the area, a process facilitated by a common Islamic faith. Eventually, they came to feel that they were neither Aceh nor Minangkabau but rather a new people group with their own distinct culture and language. The Aneuk Jamee language is called Jamee or Jamu. The Aceh in southern Aceh can understand this Jamee language because the Minangkabau vocabulary that is part of their language is similar to the national language. However, most Aneuk Jamee do not understand or use the Aceh language.
What are their lives like?
Many Aneuk Jamee are fishermen, and others work in irrigated and unirrigated rice farming (basawah and baladang) and growing fruits (bakabun). Some Aneuk Jamee are permanent traders (baniago) while others, known as penggaleh, sell goods from village to village. The Aneuk Jamee have three classes in their society. The nobles (datuk) form the highest level. The middle level is formed by local leaders (hulu baling) and religious leaders such as the prayer leaders (tengku and imam) and Islamic judges (kadi). The common people are at the lowest level. Traditional leadership in a village contains a combination of Minangkabau and Aceh elements. These leaders are the village headman (kecik), prayer-house leader and youth leader. This is somewhat different from the district level leadership, which follows traditional Aceh leadership patterns. In this pattern, there is an area headman (mukim), village headman (kecik), street leader (ketua jurong) and elders (tuhapeut).
What are their beliefs?
The Aneuk Jamee follow Islam. As with other Indonesian people, Aneuk Jamee incorporate earlier beliefs and practices into Islam. The services of a shaman (occultist or magical healer) are still frequently used for various things. For example, a young man may ask the shaman to cause a girl to fall in love with him with a spell. The shaman may later be asked by the family to release a girl from this spell.
What are their needs?
Many of the boats used by the Aneuk Jamee fishermen are actually owned by residents of Medan and Banda Aceh cities. Thus, a program to finance the purchase of their own boats would be very strategic. Also, Aneuk Jamee farmers could use agricultural training, more efficient irrigation and the provision of good fertilizer and seeds to increase crop yields so that their economy can improve.
Text source: Copyright © IPN, 2011. Used with permission.