Prayer Profile
The Dohoi of Indonesia

[IMAGE] The term Ot Danum, (an alternative name for the Dohoi) is a generic term meaning "people who live in the upper regions along rivers." It covers a number of sub-groups who share a common myth of origin, and who speak closely related dialects of the same language.

Four major sub-groups of the Ot Danum can be found living on the island of Borneo, located in the Indian Ocean just southwest of the Philippines. They occupy a 180 mile long belt that stretches from the upper Melawi River to the upper Barito River.

The legend of their origin says that there were two brothers and two sisters who descended from the skies on a golden palangka, or altar. The brothers made their way down the Kahayan River, and the sisters journeyed down the Barito River. While hunting, the brothers saw human tracks, which they traced to the two women. There they married. One of the couples went back to the Kahayan, and their descendants eventually became known as the Ot Danum.

What are their lives like?
The Ot Danum belong to a larger group of people known as the Dayak. This term is refers to a large number of non-Muslim peoples. They live along the banks of a large river system where they grow rice and collect forest products such as resin, rubber, ironwood, and animal skins.

Dogs, pigs, and chickens are kept as domestic animals, and cows are kept to eat at major festivals. Water buffaloes are herded, but only at a distance because they easily turn wild and can be dangerous to villagers.

The Ot Danum are known throughout the central region for their plaited hats, baskets, and mats. Farming and hunting tools are also made locally.

Villages range in size from 100 to 400 people. Their homes are rectangular in shape, and stand 6 to 15 feet above the ground on wooden posts. The land surrounding each village (for about a two mile radius) is considered to be village property. Each villager has the right to sell his land if he chooses, but only to a fellow villager. Land that remains fallow for more than 5 years may be claimed by anyone in the village.

Cross-cousin marriages are preferred among the Ot Danum. When an agreement has been reached by a couple's parents, the groom's family gives a symbolic gift to the family of the bride. A second gift is given when the engagement is announced. After the marriage has taken place, a bride price is paid.

The tropical conditions of Indonesia demand that light, loose clothing be worn. Loin cloths are often worn for informal events, while wrap-around skirts are worn on formal occasions.

Neighbor relationships vary from group to group. However, those speaking the same dialect seem to maintain the most peaceful relations.

What are their beliefs?
The Ot Danum are animists (believe that non-living objects have spirits). They are also polytheistic (worship many gods). However, their religious practices revolve around two main deities. One is represented by the hornbill (a type of bird) and the other by the water snake.

Religious rituals can range from simple events to lengthy feasts. The people look to shamans (witchdoctors) for treatment of their illnesses. Shamans may be either male or female, and are often possessed by evil spirits.

What are their needs?
In past times, the Ot Danum were abused by bordering Malaysian rulers. They lost much of their land as a result of headhunting raids. Today, some of the Ot Danum still have a "slave complex" as a result of this long history of exploitation.

Even though there are four missions agencies now targeting the Ot Danum, there are only a few hundred believers. The Bible has not yet been translated into their native language, Dohoi. Very few Christian resources are available to them. Sadly, missionaries have not succeeded in raising up a strong group of local Christians who can effectively evangelize their own people.

Prayer Points

  • Pray against the spirits of animism and polytheism that have kept the Ot Danum bound for many generations.
  • Ask the Lord to bless the efforts of those missions agencies working among the Ot Danum.
  • Pray that these precious people will grow weary of serving many gods and will begin searching for the Truth.
  • Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Ot Danum Christians.
  • Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Dohoi language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Ot Danum so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will open the hearts of Indonesia's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Ot Danum by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Dohoi (Ot Danum)
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Their language: dohoi
  • Population: (1990) 94,900
    (1995) 102,600
    (2000) 110,500
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionists 99.5%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 513
  • Scriptures in their own language: None
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 4
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 28,200 (28%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 5,600 (6%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 22,600 (22%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 74,400 (72%)
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Population: (1990) 182,811,600
    (1995) 197,587,700
    (2000) 212,730,600
  • Major peoples in size order: Javanese 26.2%
    Javanese Indonesian 10.7%
    Sudanese 10.6%
    Madurese 10.7%
    Sudanese Indonesian 3.1%
    Han Chinese 2.6%
  • Major religions: Muslims 43.7%
    New-Religionists 35%
    Christians 13%
    Ethnic religionists 2.6%
    Hindus 1.9%
    Nonreligious 1.9%
    Buddists 1.0%
  • Number of denominations: 113

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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