Kayan, Mendalam in Indonesia

Kayan, Mendalam
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Map Source:  People Group Location from IMB. Other map data / geography from GMI. Map by Joshua Project.
People Name: Kayan, Mendalam
Country: Indonesia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 2,700
World Population: 2,700
Primary Language: Kayan, Mendalam
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 4.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.00 %
Scripture: Translation Needed
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Borneo-Kalimantan
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Mendalam Kayan are a small group of indigenous people who live in the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. The Mendalam were traditionally a nomadic hunter-gatherer people whose lives depending upon slash and burn method of agriculture, fishing and hunting. Towards the early part of the 20th century the Mendalam began to settle down and live in villages near navigable rivers. The Dutch colonial government encouraged this move to a more stationary life. For many years the Mendalam experienced precarious lives as they were at constant war with other tribes, especially the larger Iban. The Iban would raid Mendalam settlements killing and removing the heads of the Mendalam men and enslaving their women and children. In turn the Mendalam warriors would seek revenge and attack Iban villages. Fortunately, the Dutch were able to, for the most part, put an end to the cycle of violence and revenge warfare.

Christianity has reached many of the non-Muslim tribal peoples of Borneo. The Mendalam, however, still practice their traditional folk religion, shamanism and veneration of ancestors. No Christian resources currently exist in the Mendalam language.

Where Are they Located?

The Mendalam Kayan people live only on Borneo Island in Indonesia. They live in the north central part of Borneo near the border with Malaysia.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The lives of the Mendalam are changing. Once a migratory people of hunters and forest gatherers, they have now living in villages near rivers where they can employ their dugout canoes. Some Mendalam have moved to cities and to the coast in search of a better life. The Mendalam used to live in long houses on the banks of rivers. These long houses would serve as shelter for up to 50 families. The chief's room was in the middle of the long house. Now most Mendalam live in single-family dwellings.

The Mendalam grow dry rice and corn as their main foods. Dry rice is rice that is planted in dry ground, not in rice paddies. The Mendalam also raise animals like chickens, pigs, ducks and cattle. Hunting and fishing are still mainstays of the Mendalam economy. Mendalam men hunt animals with blowguns with darts tipped with poison.

Three classes exist in Mendalam society. The nobles are the families of the chiefs. They often marry outside the tribe to cement peace treaties. The common people and slaves marry within the tribe.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The primary religion practiced by the Mendalam Kayan is ethnic religion. Ethnic religion is deeply rooted in a people's ethnic identity. Each village has a shaman who is reputed to have powers to connect with the spirit world and with Mendalam ancestors. The shaman also serves as physician and village priest. He casts magic spells and performs rituals to appease the evil natural spirits who inhabit the Mendalam world. The Mendalam people live in fear of evil spirits and of offending their dead ancestors.

What Are Their Needs?

The Mendalam have many needs. They need teachers and schools for their children. They need help in learning new job skills. They need the benefits of modern medicine. Most of all, they need to hear and understand the message of Christ who can free them from their fear of evil spirits and grant their forgiveness of their sins.

Prayer Points

* Pray for the Lord to raise up a strong disciple making movement to saturate the hearts and minds of the Mendalam Kayan people of Indonesia.
* Pray for God's blessing, strengthening and healing of Mendalam Kayan families and communities through the abundant life Jesus offers to all who call on His name.
* Pray for God's blessing on the leaders of the Mendalam Kayan people, along with their families, and for their communities to welcome and enjoy God's blessing.
* Pray for the Lord to multiply the reception and influence of His Word among the Mendalam Kayan people, leading them to love Him with their whole being.

Text Source:   Keith Carey