Introduction / History
The Dayak Pasir are the original inhabitants of the Pasir Regency in the province of East Kalimantan. Based on their living areas, the Dayak Pasir consist of five sub-groups: (1) The Pasir Telake who live along the Telake River, including all of Long Kali area, (2) The Pasir Adang who live along the Adang River in the area of Long Ikis, (3) The Pasir Kendilo whose living area stretches from the source of the Kuaro River to the mouth of the Pasir River (including the area of Muara Koman and Batu Kajang), (4) The Labuan, who live in the village of Labuan and (5) The Pasir Tanjung Aru, who live throughout the area of Tanjung Aru. There are also many other Pasir groups including Balik, Burat Mato, Keteban, Misi, Pematang, Pembesi and Saing Bawei. The Pasir live side by side with other groups, particulary the Banjar, Bugis and Jawa peoples. They speak the Dayak Pasir language, which has 12 dialects: Pamatung, Telake, Tukos, Adang, Pias, Toyo, Lerengan, Nyowo, Tajur, Penuhan, Leburan and Megi. Besides Pasir and the national Indonesian language, they also use the Banjar and Bugis languages.
What are their lives like?
Some of the Dayak Pasir live in villages along the sides of rivers and others live in remote places in the middle of the jungle. The villages are inhabited by groups of extended families, which each have 20-30 people. The typical distance between houses is around 300 meters. Most of the Dayak Pasir area is a low plain. The southern portion is primarily marsh land and there is a hilly and mountainous area in the west. The Dayak Pasir area is criss-crossed by many rivers, which are used as a primary means of transportation by the people. The forest area of 1,149,000 hectares is used for a variety of needs. The Dayak Pasir lineage of descent is ambilineal (some traced through the father and others traced through the mother). Some of the Dayak Pasir practice migratory agriculture because they cannot maintain the soil's fertility. New farmland is opened by cutting down trees and burning the underbrush. As farmers, they grow rice, corn, cassava, sweet potatoes, lentils and vegetables. The Pasir also make their living from palm oil and rubber plantations. They have also started to grow coffee, chocolate and pepper. Some of the Dayak Pasir work as collectors of resin, rattan, gaharu wood, honey and walet bird nests. Others make their living producing coconut palm sugar.
What are their beliefs?
Generally, the Dayak Pasir are Muslims. However, in some cases, they still follow their ancestors' beliefs in the area of medicine and fertility. At harvest time, the Dayak Pasir give an offering to Sang Hiyang (the god of fertility) accompanied by the chanting of spells. They also perform besoyong, which is a prayer ceremony asking for the spirits of their ancestors to guard their safety at home and in the field. According to initial information, the Dayak Pasir people are easily reached by the Gospel. According to this data, more than 2,000 people have been reached with the gospel. There are three church congregations whose majority are Dayak Pasir. However, there are many cases of Dayak Pasir Christians who marry into the Islamic faith and become Muslim.
What are their needs?
The rich natural resources and fertile lands of the Dayak Pasir do not automatically make their life better. The income they earn is sufficient only for their own daily needs. One reason for this is that their means of transportation is limited. This makes it difficult for them to distribute their products to the markets. A lack of capital also hampers their business efforts.
Text source: Copyright © IPN, 2011. Used with permission.