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The Mentawai Future: Costs of Relocation

For centuries, the natural lifestyle and animistic beliefs of the Mentawai have allowed them to dwell in perfect harmony with their environment. Clans split every time their numbers became too large and everyone lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle that never exploited the resources in any one area. Today, few traditional clans remain as populations are lured into government-sponsored villages.

With almost 4000 people, the “model” village of Matotonan is a typical example of the ecological disasters caused by relocation. With so many people still living from the land, the delicately balanced ecosystem that once easily fed all the traditional Mentawai has now been irreparably damaged. Game is scarce, the rivers are over-fished and polluted by human excrement and villagers are forced to break taboo and adopt “modern” agricultural methods such as deforestation in order to cultivate their taro, sago and bananas.

EXPLORE MENTAWAI CULTURE

Challenges the Mentawai face:
Introduction: Change or Vanish
Social Structure
Modern Clothing
Schools
Religions
Costs of Relocation
Inappropriate Housing
Malnutrition & Epidemics
Fighting Back

MENTAWAI FLASH PRESENTATION

Mentawai Cultural Photo Documentary

View our breathtaking documentary slideshow and discover more about Mentawai shamanism, rituals and daily life.

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