The Last Nomads of the Sulu Sea

Indigenous Bajau fight to protect their nomadic autonomy

The Last Nomads of the Sulu Sea For half a millennium, sea nomads have been roaming across the Sulu and Celebes Seas.This report follows one of the last seafarers, Asli, and his family, who maintain a deep connection to the sea, and refuse to abandon it.
”Rilaut kaalumman ta (we dedicate our lives to the sea).” In the mind of the Bajau people, borders are the farthest distance they can reach by boat. Asli, whose family are amongst the last to maintain this way of life, says “the waters are our home.” With the establishment of national frontiers by Indonesia, Malaysia and the Phillippines, this tradition slowly died out, as their autonomy was suppressed. Uncomfortable on land, at peace in the sea – this is the way of life Asli seeks to preserve from increasing patrols of maritime borders. “We come here with pure hearts and intention. Please protect us.”

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