Togutil people

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Togutil people
Inner Tobelorese / Inner Tobelor people / Tobelo Dalam
Natives of Halmahera Island.jpg
A Togutil man at Halmahera island.
Regions with significant populations
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia (North Halmahera Regency, North Maluku)
Tobelo language, other North Halmahera languages, Indonesian language
Animism, Christianity, Islam
Related ethnic groups
Tobelo people

The Togutil people (also known as Inner Tobelo [1] ) are an indigenous group with a semi-nomadic lifestyle living in the jungles of Totodoku, Tukur-Tukur, Lolobata, Kobekulo and Buli, North Maluku in the Aketajawe-Lolobata National Park, North Halmahera Regency, North Maluku, Indonesia. [2]

The external ethnonym Togutil is equivalent to the native designations o fongana ma nyawa and o hongana ma nyawa (literally "the forest people"). [3] [4] Their lifestyle is very much dependent on the surroundings of the jungle. Sago is a staple food.

Their settlements are usually in groups of community along river banks. There are about 42 households of Togutil communities that settled along the Dodaga river, while about 500 lived along the Akelamo river. [5] Their houses are made of wood and bamboo with Pelem leaves (a type of Livistona ) as roofing. Generally their houses do not have walls or wooden flooring.

The Togutils are categorized as a separate group of people living in the interiors of north and central Halmahera. The Togutil people use the same language as the Tobelo people that live in the coastal area. Their communities are often categorized as a group of outcasts living in the jungles compared to the Tobelo living in the coastal area. Their physical appearance, especially their facial features and skin tone have a stronger resemblance to the Malay people than of the Tobelo. [6]

According to local legend, the Togutil descend from coastal dwellers who moved to the jungles in order to avoid taxes. In 1915 during rule of the Dutch East Indies, there was an effort to settle them in the countryside of Kusuri and Tobelamo. But because they refused to pay taxes, they returned to the jungles and the settlement effort became a failure. However, there is no evidence to support this account of the Togutil's origins. [7] [8]

Ethnos360 (formally New Tribes Mission) evangelical Christian missionaries planted a church and established a village at Tanjung Lili in eastern North Maluku in 1982. Proselytisation has been largely successful with the mission's converted Togutil leaders continuing the work of the missionary organisation by spreading the Gospel in more remote interior jungle areas. "Today almost all of the people who formerly lived along the Waisango, Lili, and Afu Rivers have converted to Christianity. Virtually all beliefs and practices connected with their previous indigenous cosmology, such as ancestor worship, have been discarded as incompatible with Christianity. Members of the community strongly discourage any attempt to reinitiate these practices, which are now considered to be misguided beliefs that they followed while under the influence of Satan." [9]

An estimated 300 to 500 Togutil are uncontacted, out of a total population of around 3000. The forests in which the uncontacted Togutil live are under threat from nickel mining for the production of electric car batteries. [10] [11]


Some Togutil continue to wear traditional loincloths, although most of them have adopted modern clothing. [12] They are traditionally nomadic hunter-gatherers, hunting wild boar, deer and other animals, as well as fishing and relying on sago palms as their main source of carbohydrates. [10] [12] They also harvest megapode eggs, resins, and antlers to sell to people from the coastal area. There is some horticulture, with bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, papayas and sugar cane being common crops that can be found in their gardens. However, these gardens are not cultivated intensively owing to the Togutils' semi-nomadic lifestyle. [8]

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  10. 1 2 "The Hongana Manyawa". Survival International . Retrieved 6 April 2023.
  11. "NEWS: Indonesia: Uncontacted tribe being destroyed for electric car batteries". Survival International . 4 April 2023. Retrieved 6 April 2023.
  12. 1 2 Paul Spencer Sochaczewski (2012). An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles. Editions Didier Millet. ISBN   978-981-4385-20-6.