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While it is apparent that mining has contributed greatly to world development in general, the role of mining in the development process for individual countries, regions, and peoples is problematic.(1) Two issues have been at the forefront of debate over mining development in recent years: (1) the impact of mining on the environment, and (2) the impact of mining on indigenous peoples. For many engaged in the debate, these two issues have been closely intertwined. They are interrelated to the extent that both can be viewed as potential costs
facing mining development. They have also been associated by the widespread belief that native peoples seek to promote an environmentally sound life-style while those in the mining industry are commonly characterized as profligate destroyers of the environment.
The acrimony of debate over these issues reflects the absence of easily determined "value-free" solutions and the related lack of agreement over mining's impact on the environment and indigenous peoples and how to assess the costs of this impact. As Judith Rees has noted, the choices that must be made "are subjective, political, social and moral."(2) It also reflects the extent to which mining is an intensive industry that concentrates capital and industry in rural settings to an unparalleled degree.
The extent and value of exploration and exploitation in areas occupied by indigenous peoples is a relatively small part of the total minerals market. It is, nonetheless, significant in part because such activities frequently take place at the frontier (in both physical and technical terms) of the industry. Such development in remote areas not only has a major impact on the lives of indigenous peoples, but it also threatens the ecology of relatively pristine environments.
This article will focus on mining in the Philippines and Indonesia, and address questions about mining development as it relates to the situation of indigenous peoples in these countries. The discussion begins with a brief survey of the indigenous peoples in the mining areas and their history. The next section reviews mining in the Philippines and Indonesia. The third section focuses on the relevance of mining for indigenous peoples and the changes that mining has brought about for these people. The final part examines developmental questions relating to mining and indigenous peoples. This part will look at the problem of land rights and negotiating compensation for indigenous peoples and at the broader issues concerning ethno-development and sustainable development.
Central to an examination of the relationship between mining development and indigenous people in Southeast Asia is an appreciation of the heterogeneity of the peoples concerned and the changes they have undergone in recent years.
In the Philippines, about eight to nine million people are classified as cultural minorities out of a total population of sixty-six million in 1990. Divided into about sixty groups, the main concentrations of indigenous peoples are in remote areas of northern Luzon, Mindoro, Mindanao, and Palawan. While some of the indigenous groups in the Cordillera traditionally lived in sedentary communities and practiced intensive terraced cultivation, many others lived in less stable communities and practiced shifting cultivation. Small groups of foragers, or Negritos, have traditionally been found in these areas as well.
American civil government in the Cordillera was established at Benguet in 1901 and on Mindanao in 1903. The Americans divided the Cordillera into subprovinces roughly along cultural lines. Each subprovince was placed under a Lieutenant Governor, who was given considerable autonomy, and indigenous institutions were modified to reinforce the colonial administration. Overall responsibility for indigenous affairs was given to the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes. During the interwar years, the tribal areas remained political and economic backwaters, with economic development of the colony focused largely elsewhere. In the Cordillera, the primary developments included establishment of a rest and recreation center for American troops near Baguio, the establishment of the gold mines also close to Baguio, and the activities of Protestant missionaries. On Mindanao, pineapple and banana plantations were established around the time of the First World War.
The early postwar period saw a resumption of developments that had begun before the war and an expansion of infrastructure, mining, and plantations. The first hydroelectric dam to be constructed in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples, the Ambuklao dam, was built in the mid-1950s. The pace of change quickened significantly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. An expansion of commercial activity coincided with the proclamation of martial law in 1972, with the so-called Marcos cronies, in association with foreign capital, investing heavily in natural resource development and commercial agriculture. Along with huge logging concessions, by the early 1980s there were over two dozen existing or proposed hydroelectric dams in the Cordillera and a similar number on Mindanao in areas occupied by indigenous people.
Pressures from forestry, hydroelectric dam construction, and mining resulted in political and armed straggles by indigenous peoples. In the Cordillera, the Tingguians fought against logging concessions given to individuals closely associated with the Marcos regime, while the Kalinga and Bontoc attracted worldwide attention as a result of their opposition to the construction of dams on the Chico River. On Mindanao, attention focused on protests by the T'boli over plans to dam Lake Sebu, and on the impact on indigenous peoples of setting aside large tracts of land for the expansion of commercial agriculture.
The Aquino government set in motion plans to decentralize power that previously had been centralized in Manila under Marcos. Decentralization was seen by her administration as a means of promoting democratization and more equitable economic development. Provision for the granting of greater autonomy to the Cordillera and parts of Mindanao and adjacent islands appeared in Article X of the 1987 Constitution. The article allowed for creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera following approval by a majority of the inhabitants through a referendum.
Prior to the 1950s, most of the inhabitants of Mindanao were Muslim. During the 1950s, however, Christians began migrating to the island and the scale of migration increased sharply in the 1970s. As a result, Muslims were a majority in only a few of Mindanao's provinces. The referendum to create an autonomous region on Mindanao was held on 19 November 1989, and only four of Mindanao's thirteen provinces voted in favor of joining the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao (excluding the capital of Cotabato), Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. Among the reasons cited for the poor show of support for the referendum, which President Aquino had campaigned for, was a boycott by one of the Muslim separatist organizations (the Moro National Liberation Front), the opposition of important local bosses, and opposition by Christians who did not want to be part of anything with "Muslim" in its name. The provinces voting in favor of the referendum were among the poorest in Mindanao and generally were away from the centers of resource and commercial development.
In the Cordillera, the campaign for an autonomous region was led by the Tingguian rebel priest Conrado Balweg. The Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission was established in mid-1988. After heated debate, in December the consultative commission presented the government with a draft charter for creation of an Autonomous Region of the Cordillera. The referendum was held in the five provinces of the Cordillera on 29 January 1990. Benguet, Abra, and Kalinga-Apayo voted overwhelmingly against the referendum; in Mountain province the vote was closer but still negative, with only Ifugao province voting in favor. Reasons cited for the lack of support were the poor understanding of the plan, fear of the unknown, perceived flaws in the legislation, and the influence of local political bosses. There were also widespread rumors that the mining companies had spent a great deal of money campaigning against the referendum since they feared its passage would lead to higher taxation and favored treatment for indigenous miners.
Indonesia contains a large number of distinct cultural groups, speaking hundreds of languages. This heterogeneity is especially pronounced in areas of mining development such as Kalimantan, Irian Jaya, and Sulawesi. In the 1960s, the population of Kalimantan could be roughly divided into about fifteen percent Chinese, forty percent Muslim Malays, and forty-five percent indigenous non-Muslim Dayak. The Dayak can be divided into a half dozen or so major groups and subdivided into as many as two hundred "tribes." Traditionally, the Dayak practiced slash-and-burn agriculture and lived in multiple-family longhouses, usually along river banks. There are also some indigenous groups who live as foragers. Population densities vary, but overall they are relatively low throughout Kalimantan. Most of the Chinese and Malays live near the coast, and the Dayak live further inland.
The Dutch established colonial rule over Kalimantan after concluding treaties with the sultans in eastern Kalimantan in the mid-nineteenth century. Economic development of the province was minimal prior to the Second World War. Increasing amounts of oil, natural gas, and timber were produced starting in the 1950s. By the late 1970s, East Kalimantan produced about one-quarter of Indonesia's export earnings. This included half of the country's timber exports. Timber companies cleared huge tracts of forest in the interior, causing considerable ecological damage. By the early 1980s, three-fourths of the land in Central Kalimantan was set aside for forest production. Most of the timber concessions were held by retired military officers and former government officials. Excessive logging was partially responsible for the "Great Fire" of 1982-83, which resulted in the loss of about twenty percent of East Kalimantan's rainforest. Since then, logging operations have expanded at an even faster pace. Thus, between 1986 and 1988 annual exports of timber grew from US$1.6 billion to US$3 billion.
Estimates of the number of distinct languages spoken by the Irianese vary from around eighty to almost 250. The population includes such diverse groups as the 50,000 or so Dani, with their impressive gardens, who inhabit the high Beliem valley; lowland swamp-dwellers, like the Asmat and Marind-Anim, who rely heavily on starch from the sago palm; and small bands of foragers in isolated interior valleys. Many of the interior regions had no contact with Europeans until the 1930s and, as late as 1987, two previously unknown groups appeared - one quickly retreating back into the forest.
The Dutch established their first permanent settlement in Irian Jaya at Manikwari in 1898. Although the Dutch were avid explorers of the interior of Irian Jaya, few remained for any length of time. Hollandia (the present Jayapura) was founded in 1910, but by 1938 its population included only 400 Dutch and 800 non-Irianese Indonesians. The Second World War brought unprecedented attention to Irian Jaya, which was occupied by thousands of Japanese troops before being liberated by the Allies. After the war, West New Guinea found itself the last remnant of the Dutch empire in Southeast Asia. The Dutch encouraged Papuan nationalism and sowed the seeds for the independence movement against Indonesia that was to come after Dutch West New Guinea was annexed by Indonesia in the 1960s. The Operasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) launched its separatist struggle against Indonesia in 1969. In the ensuing guerrilla war, which continues to a limited extent at present, thousands of people have been killed. At the same time, the government has sought to win the hearts and minds of the Irianese through education and other developmental programs.
Natural resource development in Irian Jaya dates back to the 1930s, when Standard Oil began drilling near the coast. The Dutch also developed a few plantations near Hollandia and their other settlements. But, again, it was really only in the late 1960s and 1970s that significant natural resource development began. Logging has taken place especially in the southeastern lowlands occupied by the Asmat. Work on the giant Freeport copper mine in the mountainous interior began in the 1960s, with production commencing in 1973.
Sulawesi's approximately twelve million inhabitants include a number of large ethnic groups such as the Bugis, Makassarese, Mandarese, and Toraja, as well as a few dozen smaller groups. While about eighty percent of the people of Sulawesi are identified as Muslim, some twenty percent are Christian. Christians are concentrated in the far north (Minahasa) and in the interior uplands. The Dutch launched a campaign to establish their rule over the island in the early twentieth century. By 1906, following often bloody campaigns, Dutch authority had been established over virtually all of the various peoples. Among the highland peoples, especially stiff resistance was encountered in northern Toraja. Pacification allowed an intensification on efforts by Christian missionaries to convert the highlands peoples. Despite slow progress at first, today the majority of highlands peoples are Christian. During the 1950s, warfare between government forces and Muslim rebels spilled over into the highlands. After peace was established in the mid-1960s, population growth in the face of scarcities of land and employment at home led many young Toraja to migrate in search of work. Today, while the population of Tana Toraja is over 300,000, more than 200,000 Toraja are estimated to live elsewhere in Indonesia. Many of these Torajans have found work in the timber, oil, and mining industries in Kalimantan, Irian Jaya, and elsewhere in Indonesia. Some have also found employment closer to home, working for Inco Ltd. at Soroako.
Resource-based industries are to be found in several areas of Sulawesi. There are important forest industries in central and southeastern Sulawesi, nickel mining in south and southeast Sulawesi, and small-scale gold mining in north and central Sulawesi. Unfortunately, research on the impact of these industries on local populations is very limited.
The Indonesian government's transmigration policy has had a profound effect on Irian Jaya and Kalimantan since the early 1980s. Under Dutch rule between 1905 and 1930 about 100,000 people were resettled from Java to the "Outer Islands", primarily to Sumatra, but also to Kalimantan starting in 1921 and Sulawesi in 1937. Another 600,000 went to these other islands as plantation laborers. The resettlement policy served to create "a 'myth of emptiness', the erroneous assumption of 'underpopulation' that would provide the justification for resettlement policies for many years to come."(3) The Sukarno government continued the policy in a haphazard fashion, while the Suharto government adopted it with considerable enthusiasm. The main target of the transmigration program initially remained Sumatra, but gradually the emphasis moved further afield. By 1986, over two million people had been resettled on Sumatra (sixty-two percent), Kalimantan (nineteen percent, or 99,200 families), Sulawesi (fourteen percent), and Irian Jaya (five percent, or 19,000 families).
Under Indonesia's fourth development plan (1984-1989) around seventy percent of the migrants, some 495,000 families, were to have been sent to Kalimantan and Irian Jaya. To get a sense of the potential impact of such a plan, in 1986 the population of Kalimantan was eight million people and the population of Irian Jaya 1.4 million people. Financial and other problems caused the government to call the transmigration program to a virtual halt in 1986, and since then the pace of resettlement has slowed considerably. The plan's proposal to send 140,000 families to Irian Jaya caused some alarm and was judged by others to be unrealistic. The government reduced the program, and in the year 1986-87 only 3,000 families were sent to Irian Jaya.
In assessing the transmigration program up to the mid-1980s, a World Bank report commented that the most significant impact of the program was on infrastructure, especially in Kalimantan.(4) The result of greater ease of communication and transportation has been even more rapid change for the indigenous peoples. Many Melanesian Irianese and Kalimantan Dayaks became concerned that they were being swamped by Javanese migrants and, at the same time, were bitter over the preferential treatment of the migrants by government officials.
The largely Javanese Indonesian government has viewed its programs as bringing "civilization" to the indigenous peoples and helping to build the nation. Anthropologist Jerome Rousseau describes his impressions after returning for a visit to U. Bawang in Central Kalimantan in 1988 after fourteen years:
the new fields have not been cleared because men are working for the timber company ... some of the children whom I had known in the 1970s are now living in towns.... Although there is clear evidence of greater prosperity and improved health, there is also fear about the loss of control over their lives: U. Bawang lives …