Plans for action 1999-2002

Down to Earth Special Issue, October 1999

At the Congress, delegates drew up work plans for AMAN based on priorities identified in earlier discussions. Their draft programme was presented in a plenary session and the following plan of action agreed. As five sub-groups had worked independently there is some overlap between sections.


Strengthening indigenous organisations

Two main types of explanation were offered to explain the weakness of indigenous peoples' organisations: internal factors, such as their weak economic position; the lack of training to cope with new challenges and the failure to implement adat laws; and external factors, mainly government regulations which act against indigenous peoples' interests and the divisive tactics used by governments from the colonial era through to the end of the Suharto years.


  • Indigneous peoples must form their own, independent co-operatives and be prepared to work with any agencies that support indigenous peoples' interests.
  • AMAN should hold workshops to help indigenous communities become more prosperous.
  • Indigenous peoples must have seats in the Indonesian Parliament, the Consultative Assembly and local assemblies.
  • Good local, regional, national and international networks and communications between indigenous peoples are essential for all these objectives.


Advocacy & Defence

The way that government policies ignore the existence of indigenous peoples was identified as the central issue. All laws, regulations and other legal instruments which disadvantage indigenous people must be rejected, withdrawn or revised.


  • Indigenous peoples must strengthen their own institutions in accordance with their own adat;
  • Effective networks must be established between indigenous peoples at local, national and international levels to strengthen the indigenous movement and to channel its demands.
  • More research is needed on the problems which confront indigenous peoples.
  • Indigenous peoples need to be more aware and understand better the relationship between their problems, adat law and national legislation.
  • Indigenous peoples must be prepared to support each other and take action on all cases throughout the archipelago, not just those which affect their own families, localities or occupations.



A major problem for indigenous peoples is that the customary laws, culture and traditional practices which lie at the heart of their understanding of the world are gradually being lost, especially to the younger generation. Traditional knowledge (for example, about cultivation and medicinal plants) is not part of the formal educational curriculum.


  • Educational curricula based on indigenous knowledge must be drawn up.
  • Schools should be set up to preserve and develop indigenous knowledge, culture and adat.



Indigenous peoples throughout the archipelago suffer from the problem of not having control of their own natural resources. They remain poor in the midst of great natural wealth as these resources are exploited by big business for their own profits. Furthermore, indigenous peoples are paid low prices for the produce which they sell to intermediaries. Indigenous peoples must strengthen their economic position.


  • Indigenous peoples must set up their own village co-operatives and co-operatives at district level.
  • An indigenous peoples' co-operative organisation should be established in Jakarta.