The Central Sulawesi region is comprised of 15 indigenous groups, speaking 24 distinct languages. Under Dutch rule and since Independence, transmigration, both formal and informal, has led to the development of a wide cultural mix in the coastal areas around Palu and the northern areas of the Lore Lindu NP. More remote, southern areas of the Park, still retain largely indigenous societies but as Caldecott and Ng Forge state, no Lore Lindu area can be regarded as being ethnically or culturally homogeneous. Roughly half of the people living around the National Park are recent arrivals, or descendants of recent arrivals. The majority of people moved into the area either as participants in the government’s formal transmigration programmes (at a peak in the 1970-80s), or as a result of informal migration. Many were economic migrants, while others were internally displaced persons who migrated into the Lore Lindu area because of civil unrest or conflict.
It is frequently stated that the Napu, Besoa and Bada valleys have been inhabited for at least 1,000 years. This is probably a gross underestimate. Prior to the North Asian migrations of the past 4000 years, from which most modern Indonesians descend, it is probable that there were Melanesian cultures inhabiting the fertile valleys of the region. This opinion is mentioned in the management plan for “Kalamanta NP” (FAO 1977). The document cites Kruyt, a Dutch missionary who studied the history of the people of the area in the 1930s. He was one of the first people to speculate that the curly hair observed in some populations denoted a characteristic derived from Melanesian ancestry.
A subsequent culture that inhabited the area, erected a large number of megaliths, consisting of many different shapes and forms. These large statutes and sarcophagi. attest to the existence of a well-organised society, capable of undertaking joint projects. Construction and movement of the megaliths, which would have been both difficult and time-consuming, would have required the accumulation and the transmission of skills. This implies that the communities had a surplus of time, above and over that required for survival activities such as hunting and agriculture. In addition, the cultural beliefs and social structure, which were responsible for the construction of megaliths, would have been in existance for a long period of time. The age of the megaliths has not, as yet, been determined with any degree of certainty (estimates range widely from 3,000 to 700 BP). Thus, the relationship between the megalithic culture and the indigenous peoples that live around the Park today, is one that is open to speculation. It seems likely that, at some stage, Proto-Malay and Paleo-Mongoloid peoples migrated into the area, but much more research will be needed before fundamental questions relating to the megaliths are resolved, and the megalith creators identified.
Lebar (1972) distinguishes four main groupings of Toradja (a lowland term referring to the “mountain men” of the Central Sulawesi highlands):
i. the mountain Toradja, residing in the eastern part of the area (Tawaelia, Napu Besoa and Bada);
ii. the Pipikoro Toradja, residing in the west (The Lariang/Koro Valley);
iii. the northwest Toradja (around Lake Lindu and the Palu Valley);
iv. the northern Toradja (reaching Donggala and Parigi).
A more recent classification used by Caldecott and Ng Forge (1996), also recognises four main indigenous groupings. They are:
i. the Bada;
ii. the Behoa;
iii. the Perkurehau, and;
iv. the Kaili
These people are largely associated with the main valleys of the area. Although there is cultural and linguistic overlap, long lineages and geographic isolation have produced cultural differences that are expressed in origin myths, dialects and rituals. It seems probable that the people who settled in the Lore Lindu area, were related to people living much further to the south. For instance, the Kaili people, were recognised as being a distinct social and political entity as long ago as the 17th century, even though they were not totally independent from the powerful kingdoms centred around Southern Sulawesi. Regardless of history, all four groups now associate strongly with the Lore Lindu area.
1. The Bada people originally dispersed outwards from Tinoi village, and now occupy around 14 villages in the Bada Valley, at the southern extremity of the Park. The Pekurehu, Behoa, and the Bada are collectively known as the Lore people. This is because Lore is said to be the ancestral home of the Behoa people. Linguistically, these groups are related to each other but are distinct from the Kaili. The Pekurehu and Behoa dialects are reported to be similar, whilst that of Bada is less so. The Kaili are spread across an altitude range that includes the coastal lowlands around Donggala and Palu, whilst the three groups that comprise the Lore are traditionally highland valley dwellers.
2. The Behoa are mainly found in the Besoa enclave, and in the southern part of the Napu Valley.
3. The Pekurehu are also known as the Napu, and are found mainly in the villages of Watumaeta, Wuasa, Kadu’a, Wanga and Watutau along the western border of the Park.
4. The Kaili are located along the western side of the Park in a long narrow valley. They share a common language, but have very marked dialects. Caldecott and Ng Forge (YEAR) note that the names of each dialect derive from the different pronunciation of the word “no”. People from different dialect groups are able to understand each other, but the Leda dialect from the Palu Valley was adopted widely as the local lingua franca from the late 19th century onwards.
Social structure within all four groups was traditionally strongly hierarchical. Typically, there were four ranks: nobility, counsellors and elders, commoners, and slaves. Villages were clustered together into small communities, each having its own ruler. The community ruler, whose title is a variant on Magau, was usually drawn from the nobility. Communities interacted, forming alliances of marriage, and were therefore not truly autonomous. They were also not exempt from having to pay tributes to both the near-by and distant power centres that arose on Sulawesi during the island’s varied history. Disagreements, feuds and subsequent raids were probably frequent as settlements were stockaded with massive earthworks and sharpened bamboo palisades. Slaves, scalps and livestock were all taken.
Before the Dutch opened up the area, there was very little wetland rice growing. Agriculture focused on upland dryland rice, corn, and tubers grown under a swidden system. Ownership of livestock was largely the preserve of the nobility. Acciaioli’s research (1989) indicates clearly how the ownership of large herds of water buffalo, linked to religious beliefs, helped to maintain social stratification. It was believed that the soul could only pass into the afterlife if accompanied by a water buffalo. Hence, funeral rites demanded sacrifices. This ensured that commoners were forever indebted to nobility; debts could be worked off by the poor through the offering of services of manual labour. Gross indebtedness also meant that people could fall into slavery.
Slavery was officially abolished in 1860 by the Dutch administration, but persisted in the Bada highlands until the 1930’s. It is likely that even though slavery has been eradicated as a formal system, the pervasive class system has continued to foster a society that is prone to indebtedness. Certainly, the findings of Caldecott and Ng Forge, suggest that large numbers of people are, to this day, heavily in debt. The Dutch fostered the class system during colonial rule by appointing nobles to positions of influence within the regency and district systems, thereby presenting noble families with a means by which they could retain power right up to the present time.
South Sulawesi has long held a major influence over Central Sulawesi. The Mandar and Bugis people are both well-represented in Palu and around the northern half of the Park. Bugis have been trading with the Palu-Donggala area for centuries. The first wave of Bugis immigration was reported in the coastal region of Donggala. This occurred when the Dutch conquered the Makassar Kingdom in the middle of the 17th century. Later, Bugis migrations occurred in the early 20th Century, driven by the need to acquire land on which to grow cash crops. The Islamic secessionist movement of 1950-65 also dramatically influenced dispersal, with Bugis communities establishing themselves in many coastal areas throughout the Indonesian Archipelago.
The traditional animism of the area has formally given way to Islam and Christianity. As with many areas in and around Sulawesi, Muslim traders spread their religious beliefs, with Islam establishing a foothold along the west coast of Sulawesi in the 15th Century. Conversions to Islam occurred in the lowland Kaili regions (Ija, Ledo, Ado, and sections of the Moma).
Christianity arrived with the Dutch, who “pacified” the highland valleys by force in 1906-7. This led to an influx of Protestant missionaries into the area, including many Baptists. In 1913 the Salvation Army sent its first missionaries and there is still a strong Bala Keselamatan presence today.
As previously stated, the northern area of the Park is more heavily influenced by the arrival of migrants than the Park’s southern area. This is due to the northern region’s proximity to Palu and its transport systems, including a port and extensive road connections to other Sulawesi Provinces. Map HHH gives an impression of the current mix of indigenous people and migrants in selected villages around the middle latitudes of the Park. Local government data indicate a great variety in the composition of villages, even between neighbouring settlements. For instance, Lempeiro is very strongly indigenous (93%), whilst Gimpu, only a few kilometres away, has a community which consists largely of migrants with far fewer indigenous people represented (25%).