Mentawai students embrace the Mentawai Rereiket dialect to Indonesian language dictionary

Students at Mentawai’s SDN 15 school in Maileppet, South Siberut Island study the Mattaoi Rereiket dictionary as part of their cultural studies program. Teacher pictured: Ibu Jorjo. Photo: Bastian Ade Sakarigi

In celebration of the UNESCO 2019 international year of indigenous languages, our partner organisation (YPBM) and IEF published the first-ever edition Mentawai Rereiket to Indonesian language dictionary. In addition to all 5 indigenous learning hubs, these dictionaries have been distributed to all 8 schools within the Rereiket district and have since also been acquired by 3 schools from the Sabirut district – based on the notion that every student should be taught about all the cultures and languages that make up the national heritage in order to promote understanding and tolerance.

“There is so much more meaning within language than just the words themselves. The transmission of indigenous knowledge from generation to generation critically relies on the preservation of language, and for this reason IEF places enormous value on supporting projects such as this – a series of dictionaries documenting and preserving Mentawai’s endangered dialects.” IEF President, Rob Henry.

Students at Mentawai’s SDN 15 school in Maileppet, South Siberut Island study the Mattaoi Rereiket dictionary as part of their cultural studies program. Teacher pictured: Ibu Veronika Osin. Photo: Bastian Ade Sakarigi

IEF is assiduously working with our Mentawai partner (YPBM) to encourage young girls to participate in their educational programs and learn about their community culture with considerable success, including support from community leaders and families, who see the value of education at all levels. In addition, we are working to encourage indigenous peoples in Asia to participate in the UN sponsored international decade of indigenous languages to ensure that culture and identity are preserved by strengthening the connection of indigenous people to their language. A preparatory meeting in Mexico this year will bring together a diverse range of stakeholders, including high-level representatives of the national governments, Indigenous organizations, Indigenous peoples, scholars and experts in the field of Indigenous languages, and other partners from public and private sectors for a constructive dialogue to advance language equity for all indigenous communities.

Aligning with the vision and sustainable development agenda of the UN, our language documentation story has also been published by UNESCO and The Ecologist.

Please take a moment to watch this short film highlighting the relevance and importance of this language project to YPBM and the Mentawai community:


With support of IEF, the Mentawai dictionary is now being utilised by schools and indigenous learning hubs throughout southern Siberut Island, providing thousands of female and male students with access to learning their mother tongue. To support the continued preservation of Mentawai language and culture, please purchase your own copy of the first-edition Mattaoi dictionary via our IEF online store.

Masura’ bagatta, thank you.

IEF wish to acknowledge the support of LUSH Charity Pot for their financial assistance with this project.


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