Introduction / History
The Makian Barat (West Makian), also called the Makian Luar (Outer Makian), occupy all of the island of Makian except the east coast, which is inhabited by the Makian Timur (East Makian or Inner Makian). Makian is part of the province of North Maluku. The Maluku Islands, historically called the "Spice Islands," consist of over one thousand islands scattered throughout eastern Indonesia. They include most of the islands between Sulawesi and Papua and between Timor and the Philippines. Makian Island is mountainous and is the home of a volcano called Kei Besi, which has erupted several times and claimed many lives. In 1975, with no prior warning, Mount Kei Besi erupted violently. This prompted the national and provincial governments to begin to relocate residents living near the volcano to the nearby island of Halmahera. As a result, many small communities of Makian Barat people live on the Kayoa islands, located to the south of Makian island. In the past, most observers classified the Makian as one people group with one language consisting of two dialects. However, careful linguistic analysis has shown that the West Makian language, Jitinee, is part of the West Papuan language cluster, while the East Makian language, Tabayama, is part of the Austronesiam language cluster. The Makian Barat language is part of a larger linguistic grouping called the North Halmahera which also includes the Galela, Laba, Loloda, Modole, Pagu Tabalu, Tobelo, Tugutil, Gamkonora, Ibu, Kau, sahu, Waioli, Ternate and Tidore.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Most Makian Barat are farmers. Primary crops include rice, corn, sweet potatoes, legumes, spices and vegetables. To fell trees, the Makian use short knives (samaran) and axes (tamako) and to plant rice and corn they use canes (hamasik or leko). They also catch fish for their daily needs. In the past, Makian Island was known for producing cloves and nutmeg. One of the important customs of the Makian community is mayakalo, mutual cooperation in work - such as clearing forests, preparing farm land, building homes, wedding celebrations and funerals. The concept of mayakalo is clearly displayed in the movements of the Cawa dance.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Makian generally adhere to Islam. The influence of Islam is strongly evident in Makian arts, such as chanted recitation of prayer, the Salaijin dance, recitation of the Qur'an and the debus performance involving a display of magic. The debus performance is connected with an ancient ancestral system of supernatural power, which includes stabbing oneself without suffering harm.
What Are Their Needs?
The Makian Barat need to improve their skills in agricultural technology, in order to produce greater crop yields. They also need better infrastructure to improve transportation of their goods to markets, so their crops can sell for higher prices. The Makian Barat are also short of preventative medicine and adequate medical treatment. Because of the costs and distance, trips to seek medical attention are usually made as a last resort and are often too late.
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