Introduction / History The Ampanang people group lives just east of Central Kalimantan, southeast of the city of Tunjung, not far from the cities of Jambu and Lamper. Kalimantan, meaning "River of Diamonds," is the name for the Indonesian two-thirds of the island of Borneo; Malaysia and Brunei occupy the other one-third. The Ampanang are one of the people groups in the Barito cluster, which is part of the larger Dayak ethno-linguistic complex. Dayak peoples tend to live alongside the interior rivers of Kalimantan. They are sometimes sub-divided as either Land or Sea Dayaks, although this is primarily a European designation to distinguish the various groups. They are usually further characterized by: (1) bilinear inheritance and bilateral kinship reckoning; (2) uxorilocal residence or living with or near the kin of the wife; (3) political unity rarely above the level of the village; (4) absence of social stratification (although slavery is or was practiced by some groups); (5) multifamily dwellings (often including longhouses); and (6) in most cases, secondary burials. The Dayak tribes apparently came from West Asia as a migration of the Mongols who entered the archipelago through the southern Kalimantan coastal city, which is now called Martapura.
What are their lives like? The primary means of livelihood for the Ampanang include hunting, gathering forest products, fishing, farming, and trade. Although most Ampanang live beside rivers, there are also those who live in areas far from any river. The Ampanang culture is intertwined with their belief in unseen spirits. In the same way, the arts and various other activities are incorporated into their belief system. The Ampanang also uphold various traditional ceremonies. These ceremonies include matchmaking and engagement, marriage, pregnancy, birth, healing of a sickness, and burial. Ritual ceremonies are also often observed during the time of celebrating their important holidays.
What are their beliefs? Generally the Ampanang people are followers of the traditional Dayak beliefs, called Kaharingan. In addition, some are also followers of the Nyuli belief. The focus of the Nyuli teaching is that there is a resurrection after death (Suli). According to Nyuli teaching, Bukit Lumut releases the departed spirit. Such a spirit then returns to their village, bringing something from eternity that can be used to improve the condition of the world. The Ampanang people also give praise to the spirits of their ancestors (duwata). Each Ampanang family has a place of worship for their own duwata in their house. This place of worship is usually called kunau. They also use a pangantuhu, a piece of human bone, as a tool to call departed ancestors.
What are their needs? Recently, there has been significant change in the life, traditions, worldview, and community systems of the Ampanang. This has occurred in conjunction with their greater mobility and contact with the outside world, and their new openness to outsiders. The Ampanang need formal education and skills development in order to face the changes they are experiencing. Sufficient education and skill improvement can help them rise above poverty. Improvement in health is also still greatly needed.