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Bunong people to promote own identity to younger generation

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Children carry traditional baskets. KT/Mai Vireak

About 200 Bunong indigenous people plan to hold a ceremony in Mondulkiri province to commemorate their culture before the Khmer New Year because they are worried about the loss of their cultural identity as the younger generation drifts away from traditions.

The ceremony to commemorate Bunong culture will take place on Thursday at Sre Kleng Primary School in Pech Chreada district’s Bou Sra village.

Song Bro, a representative of the Lammes community, said yesterday that respect for the Bunong identity from the younger generation seems to be gradually decreasing, so the elders in the community organised the ceremony to promote the traditional culture of their ancestors.

“We organised this programme to avoid the loss of our identity. Our younger generation has forgotten their identity, including the use of language, clothing, dance and way of worship,” she said.

The indigenous group fears losing their identity. KT/Mai Vireak

A letter from Bunong representatives Srang Seoun and Srom Krun submitted to the Mondulkiri provincial administration last week stated that the ceremony was organised because the younger generation seemed not to be interested in the Bunong culture or language.

“To encourage Bunong indigenous youths and elders to be interested in their traditional costumes and art, a group of indigenous elders and youths has initiated this idea to disseminate, promote and appeal for participation in Bunong indigenous identity preservation,” the letter said.

Peng Sambath, deputy governor of Mondulkiri province, decided to allow the Bunong people to celebrate the event at the proposed location.

Sok Ratha, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that respect for traditional cultures of indigenous people has decreased due to modernisation and a mindset of materialism in society.

“If the traditional culture of indigenous people is lost, it will have a serious impact on them, including the use of rights, natural resources and land management, because all of these are connected to each other,” he said.

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