Thing You Should Know

By: Mey Phalla, Cambodia

Tribal or Tribe people is the word that use in the United of America, which refer to Salish and Kootenai and the Indigenous Community is the word that use in Cambodia country, which refer to a group residing in Cambodia for a long time and has its own language, culture, custom and tradition difference from Cambodian people. My blog is going to tell you about some of the story and challenges of the tribe people here and the indigenous community in Cambodia.

Regarding to the report of CSKT on land and home, show that the tribe people is has been living in most of Montana, portions of Wyoming, Idaho, Washington and Canada before 1700, and the Salish Tribe grew, becoming so large that the people had to divide into smaller bands. In 1855 the 1.3 million Acre of Flatheads Indians reservation has reserve for the land use of the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille. Unfortunately in 1910 the land is open for the home construction and some land is belong to non-tribe people, but many Indians is unfamiliar with the new lifestyle and difficult to survive, and many of them are lost their land more and more, finally most of the land became to non-Indians own land, after that some of land has been develop to be a future park and wildlife, and schools, and the land surrounding the lakes put for sale.

In 1934 the Federal government law passed allow the tribal to great the Tribal Council Government, the Tribal council has 10 members that elect by the tribe people for 4 years per each mandate, and the 10 members of the council elect for the chairman by themselves. Under the council they have the department who responsible for particular issue: such as department of education, department of forestry, and department of land est. One of responsibility of the tribal council after they create is to get the Flatheads land reservation back for the tribe people, but finally they can get back only 62% out of 1.3 million Acre and the tribe own fee land, which generate tax for country and non-tribal also put the fee land for the tax as well. As mentioned by Germaine White, the tribal council government have own annual income more than 137 million US dollar from the land fee, hunting fee, and electric power fee est.

The non-tribal are also afraid the tribe people are influence them to remove the non-tribal population from the area, but the true “our confederate of Salish and Kootenai tribes, work hard to support to non-tribe people” Germaine White said, she give an example that, the tribe run the electric power the federate own company bring the power to all residents, and at the same time the tribe also control and manage the resources for all people accesses not only the tribe people. The tribe people is large employer in all county and about 25% of those employer are non-tribal.

Look at the indigenous people in Cambodia you can see what the differences between the tribe people here. As estimated of the indigenous people in Cambodia is about 190,000 people – equivalent to 1.4 percent of the total population, and they are 24 indigenous groups living across 15 provinces of Cambodia. Two thirds of the indigenous populations is found in the northeastern provinces of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri. According to the report of Indigenous People Forestry Network (IPFN) to the Special Repporteur on rights of the indigenous people on 15th of March, 2015, the indigenous people they have the traditionally managed nearly 4 million hectares of remote evergreen and dry deciduous forests. At the meantime, the long-term wellbeing of indigenous cultures is strongly linked to their land use systems and access to forest resources.

In addition, indigenous peoples in Cambodia have often been marginalized due to inequitable development processes and poor governance, Cambodia’s recent economic growth has led to significant loss of land and access to natural resources for indigenous communities, while bringing them only very limited benefits. Economic land concessions, mining concessions and hydropower dams, land grabbing, deforestation and illegal logging have together severely impacted on their livelihoods. With the loss of spirit and sacred forces, people have lost their identity and their culture. Although domestic laws allow Indigenous Peoples to receive a formal communal land title, the process is complicated and slow. The rights of Indigenous Peoples in decision making about any projects affecting their land are not being respected, consultation with them is rarely carried out.

In conclusion I would say that both the tribe people and indigenous people their way of life is quite similar from one another as most of them are depending on the natural resource: land, forestry, wildlife, and water, but what is the differences is the tribal of Salish and Kootenai they have their own government, have own budget, and have power to protect and repair of their natural resources, culture, and their identity, but the indigenous people in Cambodia they have no power to influence to the government. It seem that the government of Cambodia also try to create some of mechanism to support the indigenous people such as land law 2001, forestry law 2002, sub-decree no. 128 on Economic Land Concession guideline, sub-decree no. 83 on regulation on collective land registration, but lack of implementation and monitoring mechanism from the government.


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