Negotiating adat – Inside Indonesia:

Another tactic that the Kasepuhan community use to assert their territorial claims has been to present authorities with examples of their customary forest management system. This includes reforestation in various locations where forest had been destroyed or degraded, regardless of who holds the rights to manage it. This reforestation effort serves other purposes besides rehabilitating the forest. It is also a way of staking claim to it. With help from a number of NGOs, the Kasepuhan have begun to identify and visualise their knowledge about the boundaries of their customary territory with the help of modern technology such as GPS (global positioning system) and GIS (geographic information system).

Kasepuhan adherence to adat values and practice form a pervasive and resilient framework for their day-to-day lives and relationships. One of the adat leaders said to me ‘The Kasepuhan aren’t entering the twenty-first century as defeated people. We won’t degrade ourselves.  We haven’t lost a sense of who we are’. Adat represents both a potent motivating force and an effective resource that they tactically mobilise in order to secure greater autonomy and control over ancestral lands. Adat is both a reason, and a means, to achieve legal recognition of their territory. 

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