This article examines how indigenous ethnic minorities in Indonesia are being affected by the implementation of decentralization and regional autonomy policies. New legislation transferred responsibility and authority over various issues, including resource extraction and local governance, from the central government to regional authorities at the district level. Members of the growing indigenous rights movement hoped that this decentralization process would allow ethnic minority communities to retain or regain control over natural resources through local-level politics. Furthermore, some ethnic minorities saw the implementation of decentralization as an opportunity to return to local forms of land tenure and resource management that had been disparaged by the national government for most of the twentieth century. However, these new laws also encourage district level governments to generate income through natural resource exploitation, as they will receive a certain percentage of these revenues. Minority communities could be adversely affected as local governments disregard their land rights in efforts to raise income to cover their new expenses, essentially continuing the practices of previous governments. This article examines the new opportunities, as well as the new threats, posed by decentralization to ethnic minorities throughout Indonesia.
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