A Message from The Penan

Dawat Lupung, Malaysia

Spokesperson for the Penan tribe, Borneo Rain Forest

Not long ago, we were happy.
Things were good.
Our fish were clean. Our food was pure.
Our way of life staying in the forest was good.

As things are now, we are in difficulty.
The land is being destroyed.
Many open places.

These plants are our medicines.
If we ask for medicines from the government,
they give us Panadol. It is already spoiled.
The more we take, the sicker we become.
This is what we don't like.

We are content to stay on this land,
to make our shelters in this forest.
This is a good life.
But if all these trees are gone,
there is no longer a way for us to stay here.

Trees that are cut down were once
the shelter of hornbill,
the home of gibbons,
the home of langur,
the home of every single kind of animal
that lives up high.
Where is their home now?
Gone. Finished!

I wanted to talk with the police about land to save for us to stay alive.
They don't want to talk. They arrest me.
People who go to talk, go to jail.

The government says we are animals - like animals in the forest.
We are not animals in the forest.
We are Penan. Humans.
I myself know I am human.

We want to see the land preserved - a very large area.
Up to how many acres? Up to how many acres?
Up to how many acres?
To enable hornbill,
to enable deer,
to enable pig,
- so they will have a way to stay.

Extracted from 'Penan: Voice for the Borneo Rainforest', by Wade Davis and Thom Henley, Western Canada Wilderness Committee, 1990

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