The Tomini of Indonesia
The Tomini speak many different languages. These probably evolved because of interaction with various groups through trade. It was formerly thought that the different names of each language were merely referring to the dialects. However, recent research has discovered that each group actually speaks its own distinct language.
The Tominiís cultural history can be divided into four periods: the coming of Islam, the Dutch colonial period, the Japanese invasion during World War II, and Indonesiaís declaration of independence in 1945. Because the Tomini were bypassed by the Dutch missionaries, they have remained strong in their Islamic character.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Traditionally, the Tominiís state was governed by a Sultanate, meaning that each tribe was headed by a hereditary chief and his assistants. These chiefs formed a council for assisting the ruler in governing the island. Four classes of people emerged: the royal lineage, the nobility, the commoners, and the former slaves.
In the late 1950ís, movements against the Indonesian government were led by youth groups throughout the island of Sulawesi. In the Tomini region these revolts reached a peak with the Permesta Rebellion of the 1960ís. The rebellion damaged the economy; and since that time, the government has made an effort to reorganize the national and international economic system.
The coastal Tomini produce crops such as clove (used as a spice) and copra (dried coconut meat). Some earn their living as traders, and others as lumberjacks or sailors. The Tomini living in the mountains grow dry rice, and maize (Indian corn). They also gather rattan (a type of wood used in making walking sticks and other wickerwork) for trade along the coast.
Tomini villages are characterized by small houses that are built on stilts. These are mainly located along the coastal strips of the island.
Marriages follow a Muslim pattern. A middleman negotiates the bride price, which depends on the girlís social status. It is acceptable for cousins to marry; and polygamy is also allowed, though not often practiced. Once married, a couple usually lives with their extended family, often until the first child is born.
What Are Their Beliefs?
In isolated areas of Sulawesi, some Tomini still follow ancient local religions by mixing ancestor and nature worship with Islam and Christianity. In the inland mountain areas, there are also groups who practice animism. They believe that nature and inanimate objects have spirits. The animist population of Tomini is known as suku terasing, meaning foreign tribes.
What Are Their Needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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