Friction Between Nomadic People and Governments seeking to Develop Natural Resources
As a sojourner in remote areas, Davis presents the diversity of indigenous cultural groups like the Sarawak’s Penans and Dayak people and their connection to their landscape. His work reveals conflicts between these indigenous groups and the pillagers, mainly government officials and large corporations, thus turning them into fugitives in their ancestral lands. This paper explores why governments react negatively to nomadic people like the Sarawak’s Penan who migrate through their regions, as presented by Wade Davis in his book “Shadows in the Sun.”
Davis reveals that only a few nomadic indigenous people like Sarawak’s Penan still live in their ancestral lands and carry on with their nomadic lifestyles. Their movement from their lands of origin began from their long and unresolved conflicts with the government involving their territorial rights. From an official outlook, the Penan problem with the government seems to have originated from their resistance to block harvesting of their rainforests and lands by the government and large timber companies by forming blockades to avert the government’s transit of logging pieces of machinery and trucks (Davis 41). Nevertheless, this viewpoint ignores the root cause of their endless battles, which lies in disregarding their rights over their resources and lands by the government.
The Penans regard the forests as a gift from God and perceive them as their source of livelihood. They deem the government’s aggressive harvesting strategy into their forests as a violation that restricts their hunting and gathering activities, which constitute their livelihood (Davis 37). Thus, the friction between the government and indigenous nomadic communities like the Penan’s is not a product of their resistance and activities but the failure by the government to acknowledge their rights over their resources and lands and safeguard them from external destruction.
Davis, Wade. Shadows in the Sun: Travel to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire. Broadway Books, 1998.