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About the Suku Laut

Posted by admin 13 - November - 2011

The Suku Laut in the Riau Islands of Indonesia are variously referred to as ‘sea nomads’, ‘sea folk’, ‘sea gypsies’, ‘people of the sea’ and also sometimes as Suku Sampan (boat tribe) or Orang Sampan (boat people). Described as ‘sea hunters and gatherers’ rather than as ‘fishermen’, they traverse an archipelago spanning the central part of the east coast of Sumatra to the South China Sea.


Floating home of Suku Laut, as known as “kajang”, parked behind Pak Akub’s home.

Suku Laut of Temiang Island, one of the few communities who are less nomadic and started to live in houses on stilt.


While on many fronts, both directly and indirectly, they have been targeted for what are hailed as modernization and developmental schemes, most of them remain nomadic and depend on the resources of their natural environment. Subsisting partly by hunting, fishing and by gathering forest products, their diet is inadequate and their health condition is below generally accepted norms for healthy living. Moreover, their dwellings are merely places that provide shelter and a place to sleep, thus, these are below the norms and requirements that have been established for healthy, secure and pleasurable human dwellings.

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