Introduction / History Located on the northwestern peninsular of Sulawesi, the Laudje are a sub-group of the Tomini. Their name is both a geographic and linguistic designation, and their close neighbors include the Gorontalo, the Buol, and the Kwandang. Other sub-groups of the Tomini include the Tolitoli, the Dondo, and the Dampelas.
It was formerly thought that all Tomini languages were mutually intelligible and that the different names merely referred to their dialects. However, recent research indicates that each group has its own separate language. The many Tomini languages probably resulted from the numerous trading empires that remained isolated from each other until the arrival of Islam in the sixteenth century.
Tomini cultural history can be divided into four periods: the coming of Islam, the Dutch colonial period, the Japanese occupation, and post-independence. Because the Tomini were bypassed by the Dutch missionaries, they have remained strong in their Islamic character.
What are their lives like? Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation and continues to grow rapidly. It has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world, with more than 750 distinct people groups, many of whom are Muslim. The history of the region is one of the rise and fall of petty kingdoms and their occasional union for purposes of defense and conquest. It seems likely that the region was originally inhabited by the Toradja peoples.
Traditionally, the Tomini (of which the Laudje are a sub-group) were governed by a sultanate, with each tribe being headed by a hereditary chief and his council of assistants. Four classes existed: the royalty, the nobility, the commoners, and the former slaves. After independence, some of the former rajas (kings) and their families found positions in government, while others became businessmen.
In the late 1950's, youth in Sulawesi led separatist movements against the Indonesian government. In the Tomini region, this peaked with the Permesta Rebellion of the 1960's. For several years thereafter, the area produced no marketable items. Since that time, however, the government has made an effort to improve the economy. Cloves were successfully introduced on plantations, and lumber firms were also begun.
The coastal Laudje are very active in clove production, as well as in copra (dried coconut meat yielding oil) and palm plantations. A number of Laudje earn their living as merchants, while others have become lumberjacks or sailors. The highland Laudje cultivate dry rice, maize, and sago (a type of palm). They also gather rattan (palms, the stems of which are used to make wickerwork, canes, and furniture) for coastal trade.
Laudje villages, which are located mainly on the coastal strips, are small and consist of houses built on stilts. Marriages within the villages follow a Muslim pattern and are arranged by a mediator. This "go-between" also negotiates the bride-price, the amount depending on the girl's social status. Marriages to cousins are preferred. While polygyny (having more than one wife) is permitted, it is rarely practiced. Once married, a couple usually lives with his or her family until their first child is born.
What are their beliefs? Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia today and is practiced by a majority of the population. Before the fourteenth century, Hinduism was widespread in the area, but is now practiced by only a small number of people. A segment of the population is Christian, primarily Protestant; and many Chinese follow Buddhist-Taoist teachings. Animistic religions (belief that non-human objects have spirits) are followed by tribes in remote areas.
The Laudje are largely Muslim, and the rest are animists. The animists are called suku terasing, or "foreign tribes," and have been the object of government programs, including relocation.
What are their needs? Although there are several hundred believers among the other Tomini tribes, there are no known Laudje believers. Few Christian resources in their native language are available. Increased prayer and missions efforts are essential to see a church planted among the Laudje.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to call full-time missionaries who will go to Indonesia to work among the Laudje.
* Ask the Lord to anoint the efforts of the missions agency that is currently focusing on the Laudje.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to open the spiritual eyes of the Laudje to the Truth of the Gospel.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Laudje. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.