Mentawai Indigenous Indonesia

Mentawai, Indonesia

The Mentawai Self Documentation Project is focused around an indigenous led education program, run on the island of Mentawai, Indonesia, to re-connect the communities on the island with their ancestral knowledge about medicinal plants, basket weaving, traditional Mentawai dance, storytelling and local mythology, language and hunting techniques.

The project is widely held by both local schools and local government to make sure Mentawai culture is passed on to future generations. Sinchi collaborates on this project with the indigenous led organization Yayasan Pendidikan Budaya Mentawai, Sam Lee and Rob Henry from the Indigenous Education Foundation (check out their project and documentary As Worlds Divide) and Steyn Hoogakker from Impact Journey to document the process from inside out, by donating photo cameras, tripods a laptop and recording devices to the communities and giving workshops in photography and sound recording.


  • The facilitation of workshops in visual self-documentation through photography to a group of 6 to 12 participants per workshop, during a period of 3-4 weeks , of which the first phase took place in June 2019,
  • The recording of the above process includes photo, video and (sound) recordings of focus group discussions,
  • Analysis of data to be used for the CEEP and the future targets of the program,
  • The recording of traditional songs, myths and tales by Aural Archipelago (Palmer Keen),
  • The facilitation of a travelling workshop and exhibition about the progress of the Mentawai Education Program as a blueprint for self-documentation and self-determinations within indigenous communities, consisting of both the works of the workshop participants AND the work of our workshop facilitators Steyn Hoogakker (anthropologist and documentary photographer) and Palmer Keen (ethno-musicologist); and first-contact anthropologist Reimar Schefold.

Workshops Output– Click Here

Background story– Click Here

More about Mentawai – Click Here