Challenges in conserving indigenous culture in Minahasa : culture, Genius Loci and the Indonesian Environmental Planning system
Wuisang, Cynthia E. E. and Jones, David S. 2011, Challenges in conserving indigenous culture in Minahasa : culture, Genius Loci and the Indonesian Environmental Planning system, in ANZAPS / WPSC 2011 : Proceedings of the 3rd Australian and New Zealand Association of Planning Schools conference and World Planning Schools congress, World Planning Schools Congress, [Perth, W. A.], pp. 1-24.
Culture and spirit of land is integral to Indigenous community meaning and identity. With colonisation, transmigration and assimilation policies and practices over the last 200 years, many Indigenous communities, like the Minahasa, have witnessed their culture, curatorial responsibilities, and their mythological associations to their lands eroded. Minahasa, meaning 'becoming one united', encompasses some eight ethnic communities who reside in the Minahasa regencies in the North Sulawesi Province on Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. The region was first colonised by the Portuguese in the 16th century, and then by the Dutch VOC (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) in the 17th and 18th centuries bringing a strong Christian Protestant faith to the communities that appropriated many of the cultural symbols and mythological narratives of the Minahasa, and now compromises the largest concentration of Christian faith in the Indonesian archipelago being one of the reasons why there was considerable political requests for the region to formally become a province of The Netherlands in the lead up to Indonesian independence in 1945.
North Sulawesi never developed any large empire like on other islands in the archipelago. In 670, the leaders of the different tribes, who all spoke different languages, met by a stone known as Watu Pinawetengan. There they founded a community of independent states, who would form one unit and stay together and would fight any outside enemies if they were attacked, and the Dutch used this cultural ethos to help unite the linguistically diverse Minahasa confederacy under their colonial regime. Integral to the Minahasa is the Watu Pinawetengan and the series of narratives that enjoin the Minahasan communities to this place and around Lake Tondano. With Indonesian governance considerable angst has been launched by the Minahasa about loss of local autonomy, generic Indonesian policies, and a lack of respect of Indigenous culture and non-mainstream religions within this predominantly Moslem nation. This paper reviews the state of knowledge as to the cultural associations and genius loci meanings of the Minahasa, to their landscape and place, cast against contemporary Indonesian 10 year plans and policies that seek to generically manage the collective Indonesian archipelago as one community and landscape. It is a critique about the Minahasan Indigenous land use and planning philosophies, against top-down generic land use and environmental policies and plans written in Jakarta for generic application across the Indonesian archipelago.