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History Answered the Question about the Real Indonesian Natives


Everything has been described even from 50,000 years ago.

In commemoration of the 73rd Indonesian Independence Day, let’s discuss about the history of this nation. Colonialist left a lot of trace in Indonesia civilization; starting from old buildings and ancient objects, even curricula and small stalls we found on streets. In addition, there is also the colonial legacy inherent in our society today. It is the concept of “pribumi” or nativity.

It is very upsetting when the term “pribumi” is still disputed and debated even though Indonesia has been independent from the name giver for more than 70 years. The term has been horribly taken as a weapon to divide the nation. This problem has been further aggravated by the increasingly widespread digital literacy, which is sadly has not been followed by the development of society’s moral, empathy, and tolerance value to understand the “pribumi” term better. From Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia (KBBI; the Great Dictionary of Indonesian Language), “pribumi” means “the original inhabitants from the place concerned”. Who are the real natives of Indonesia? We will discuss them here based on the history and statements from experts.


1. How does Indonesian society perceived “pribumi” and what is their attitude towards the term


Indonesian society common understanding of “pribumi” term is about Indonesian ethnic groups such as Javanese, Batak, Minangkabau, Bali, Dayak, Papuans, and such. People learned about Indonesian ethnic groups from elementary school, in which people also learn about traditional clothes, folk songs, and other attributes of every ethnic residing in Indonesia.


Meanwhile, people of Arab, Chinese, and India descent are still often considered as “foreigner” or “immigrant” even though they have been living in Indonesia for generations. Not only that they are born and raised as Indonesian, they also living the culture and speak Indonesian tongue. This seemingly trivial assumption turned out sparking social jealousy and discrimination, which then began to be associated with various aspects in life, especially politics.


Mrs. Herawati Sudoyo, the Deputy of Fundamentar Research for the Eijkman Institute of Molecular Biology, had stated on her interview by Tempo Media that “pribumi” are the people who inhabited a region for a long time, while the current Indonesian population came from several migration points. Every person in Indonesia is related to each other and there is no such thing such as a pure blood.


2. Some of us who often claim to be real Indonesian often did not realize that each ethnic group in here is actually immigrants. This fact is based on the existing prehistoric evidence.


Modern humans came to Indonesia land in the Pleistocene Era. These immigrants can be divided into two groups; Melanesia and Auntronesia. Melanesians has been in the area dated from 50,000 years ago. The majority of Melanesians originated from Africa and usually have blue eyes. This is the indication that none of us in this country today are a pure native since the beginning of time. We are all mixed and developed genes from Melanesian.

The second migration came in around 16,000 to 35,000 years ago. This one came from Indochina and entered our archipelago by land. Followed by Austronesian 4,000 years ago from Formosa to the western and eastern parts of the archipelago. Finally, these immigrants developed into the ethnic groups known today.


3. Long after the second, the third wave of migration dominated by India, China, and Arabia. They came in sequence to the archipelago.

In the 3rd century until around 2,000 years ago, people of the archipelago established spice and metal trading with India. From this occurrence, Indian culture came in within Hinduism and Buddha to the archipelago.


The archipelago then established another trade with Southern Chinese dynasty. Based on the data held by Paguyuban Nasional Marga Tionghoa (PNMT; Chinese Clan National Association), a Buddhist monk named I Ching came to India and the archipelago by sea in 907. Through I Ching’s record, he met a colony of Chinese people in Tuban, Gresik, Jepara, Lasem, and Banten. This indicate that there were already Chinese people came to the archipelago before him.

In the 15th century, in the reign of Ming Dynasty, at roughly 1407, Admiral Cheng Ho arrived in Sambas and Palembang. He then built Islamic civilization in the places he passed through. Admiral Cheng Ho sailed to Indonesia aiming to establish friendships, transfer of technology, trade, and spreading Islam. In 1474, Wali Sanga (literally means Nine Guardian) was known, five of which were Chinese descent, continuing to spread Islam in the archipelago.


The Arabs then slowly established trade relation with the archipelago. All of these intercultural relationships made a lot of cross breeds. These foreigners blood and genes were mixed with one another and the probability of them might be in our ancestor line is high. The newest data stated that Indonesian genes of now are 74% South Asian and Oceania, 9% South Asia, 5% East Asia, 6% Arabs, and 6% Africa.


4. Austronesian and “migrant” descent had mingled together and created a new generation as the integral part of the archipelago. This unity and harmony were then broken by the European colonialist who indoctrinated the term “pribumi”.

At first, people of the archipelago and the “migrants” lived peacefully together. However, Europe government then began to classify people based on their ethnic origin.  Roughly speaking, European put themselves as superior in honor and position, followed by the “migrants” such as Arabs, Chinese, and Indians. The lowest position based on this hierarchy was for the native or “pribumi”.

Because of this classification, people of the archipelago also suffered because their mixed genes cannot belong. The colonists wanted to weaken the unity of people so that they would remain strongest hence the classification was made by them. However, the colonists still met with resistance from several groups even though the attack is not as effective because the lack of unity from the people of archipelago as they were still under the colonists’ influence.

5. These Indonesian people who fought for independence had urged the state to acknowledge that every person who lives, practices culture, and speaks in Indonesian language should be recognized as the citizen of Indonesia. This practice were broken by the New Order regime but has been re-practiced since Gus Dur presidency.


By the time of independence, public figures such as Dr. Ciptomangunkusumo, Amir Syarifuddin, and Soekarno fought for people of the archipelago and “the second tier” to be recognized as Indonesians without exception; noting that they already practice the culture, live, and speak Indonesian.

Sadly, this concept of unity only lasted until 1965. The New Order era re-classified the citizen into “pribumi” and “non-pribumi”. As a result, people who are culturally mixed according to their ethnicity must adapt to extreme levels; for example: the need to change name. This era last for 30 years. The next era, Gus Dur as the president of Indonesia abolished this classification since it was a form of discrimination. Today is no longer the right time to worry about people’s origin or the visual difference between each other.

Considering that people who live, speak, and practice culture in the land of Indonesia are the citizen of Indonesia, then this is no longer the time for us to question about nativity; since none of us actually the native of this land. Open our mind and free ourselves from this primitive thoughts. Without needing to re-hold the Youth Pledge, let’s strive to make Indonesia proud; no matter who we are and whatever our background are. Long live, Indonesia! #SatuIndonesia

Source & Repost from IDNTIMES .COM, 2018: https://www.idntimes .com/science/discovery/bayu/siapa-sih-pribumi-indonesia-sebenarnya-1

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