Your country and mine are suffering from literal floods (1.5 meters of water in my home as I write this!) as well as a flood of bad news, so I want to share some rare good news: It’s about how a big step for my Indigenous community could become a giant leap for all of us.
Since I spend a lot of my time taking photos and making films, I’m going to show, not just tell. This story starts in 1973, just before my parents were born. A group of men representing a Malaysian logging company showed up in our hamlet, Sungai Utik, in Indonesian Borneo and offered our Dayak Iban elders rolls of cash to gain access to our pristine forests. They knew our traditional lands contained abundant ironwood and other hardwoods as prized and overexploited as the Truffula trees in Dr. Suess’s book The Lorax.
Our elders had the wisdom to reject that offer as well as others from loggers, pulp-and-paper companies, and palm-plantation owners. In the words of our revered elder Apai Janggut, who speaks in the Iban language in the video below, “We knew if we lost our fores... Read more