Sarawak State Library


Webinar "The Significance Of Leaves Within The Ethnic And Indigenious Community"

Start Date
19 Sep 2021
End Date
19 Sep 2021
Saluran : Akaun Youtube (Pustaka Sarawak) dan Facebook rasmi Pustaka Negeri Sarawak (pustaka.sarawak)
Details of Event

The theme for this year`s festival is Daun in Malay or Leaf (noun) or Leaves (plural) in English. It was chosen to reflect the significance and use of local leaves, especially to the many indigenous groups in Sarawak. The knowledge exemplifies the way of life of its people, culture and arts, history, custom, and traditions, or religious rites continuously being practiced and preserved for sustainability to future generations as laid out under UNESCO`s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 11).

The knowledge-sharing session shows how ingenuity and creativity are practiced in the indigenous community not only for survival but for cultural or religious practices. Local and indigenous knowledge refers to the understandings, skills, and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings. For rural and indigenous peoples, local knowledge informs decision-making about fundamental aspects of day-to-day life.

The session is aimed at documenting and preserving traditional indigenous knowledge and shows how the indigenous knowledge is preserved and transmitted from generation to generation as well as the danger of this knowledge being extinct soon due to changes in lifestyles amongst younger generations. The session shall contribute as part of the output of the festival ? a book publication on the theme Daun expected to be published in 2022 and all information shall be preserved as part of Pustaka?s local content resources on our niche Sarawakiana content.

The webinar embraced the theme `Leaves` with four invited speakers from various backgrounds in Sarawak and Canada in a sharing session on the many uses of leaves in the indigenous communities. The speakers shall present their own experiences and what they learned from their elders or as traditional knowledge holders? practitioners themselves.

Our first speaker for the webinar, Dr. Welyne Jeffrey Jehom will present her topic, Leaves for Indigenous Essentials in Sarawak. She will share her knowledge which focuses on the usage of leaves, especially amongst the Bidayuh Padawan community. Leaves are the essential item that has been widely used not just in culinary but also to source natural dyes, baskets, hats and mats weaving, shelter, and in performing religious rituals or simply as culinary tools. The speaker discusses how leaves slowly become less significant and almost no longer being part of the subsistence strategy and culture because the functions of leaves have been replaced by modern tools.

Dr. Valerie Mashman the second speaker, brings us into a journey of beautifully made sunhat from the Orang Ulu tribe in Bario. Her talk is entitled Knowledge Heritage and Identity - Orang Ulu Hats. During this talk, the speaker focuses on leaves from two species of plant used for the making of hats by Orang Ulu. She emphasizes the importance of different kinds of indigenous knowledge used and looks at how this knowledge is transmitted. She discusses the process of the making of hats and raincoats and their contemporary everyday and ritual use.

Our last speaker Ms. Camile from T??t?n Nation herself brings in Dr. Naxaxalhts`I an elder and traditional knowledge keepers from the indigenous tribe of Stó:l?. Ms. Camille then proceeded with an introduction on the general use of leaves used for sacred medicine mainly leaves such as sage, cedar, tobacco etc. Dr. Naxaxalhts`I then shares his indigenous knowledge handed down from his ancestors on the usage of Cedar trees including the leaves and its many usages within the indigenous tribe of Stó:l?, a group of First Nations peoples inhabiting the Fraser Valley and lower Fraser Canyon of British Columbia, Canada. The title of his presentation is Cedar is our Gift ? significance of the leaf. Among interesting knowledge shared by Dr. Naxaxalhts?I is the use of cedar and the leaves in cooking, spiritual cleansing using cedar boughs, cedar used as a protection, crafts from cedar, and many other interesting aspects of their indigenous knowledge which are seldom shared with our indigenous people. They also stressed that humans need to value and protect the environment and our rich biodiversity from being lost due to logging and modernization by ensuring sustainability through education, awareness, and community engagement.

The webinar is moderated by Dr. Hajah Norseha Unin. Who provides an insight on the indigenous knowledge and communities in Sarawak and an introduction on the use of Daun as the main theme for this year?s Sarawakiana Festival which provide an avenue for us to preserve indigenous knowledge for future generations and reflects on the significance and the main uses of leaves within ethnic and indigenous communities in Sarawak. She summed-up each presentation and during the round-up session and stressed that the transmission of knowledge and social nature of learning is important in the preservation of our local heritage.

Stay tuned for the webinar which will be broadcasted on the 19th September 2021 at 10:00am on Pustaka?s Facebook and YouTube Channel.


1. Dr. Welyne Jeffrey Jehom (Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University Malaya)
? Dr. Welyne Jeffrey Jehom is a senior lecturer at the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University Malaya since 2009.
? She was also the Head of Center for Indigenous Studies from 2018, ending June 2021.
? Her research interest focuses on community-driven development that includes the development of indigenous knowledge for community livelihood and women empowerment.
? To share indigenous knowledge from her research with the wider public, she has curated cultural heritage exhibitions for educational purposes highlighting the digital polysensory exhibition concept and has exhibited both in the country and internationally (2015-2018).
? She published articles in international journals and is currently completing her book on Iban Pua Kumbu Weaving for a Sustainable Community Development with Palgrave McMillan.

2. Dr. Valerie Mashman (Institute of Borneo Studies, University Malaysia Sarawak)
? Dr. Valerie Mashman is currently Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Borneo Studies, University Malaysia Sarawak. Prior to this, she was a research fellow at the Sarawak Museum.
? Her research interests in the field of anthropology examine uses of basketry, issues of oral history and narratives, values and social change, indigeneity, gender and material culture with a particular focus on indigenous peoples of Borneo. Her PhD in anthropology analyses Kelabit notions of value and change through a three-part oral history, was accepted by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in 2018.
? She has contributed papers to Borneo Studies in History, Society and Culture (2017), Shifting Cultivation and Environmental Change: Indigenous People, Agriculture and Forest Conservation (2015), Advances in Research on Linguistic and Cultural Practices in Borneo (2014), Plaited Arts from the Borneo Rainforest (2012), Female and Male in Borneo (1991), Sarawak Museum Journal and Borneo Research Bulletin. She also co-edited with Lucas Chin, Sarawak Cultural Legacy (1991).

3. Ms. Camile Callison (Chairman of IFLA Indigenous Matters Section; University Librarian at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV).
? Camille Callison (T??t?n Nation) is the University Librarian at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). Until June 2021, she was the Indigenous Strategies Librarian at the University of Manitoba.
? Camille serves as the Chair of IFLA Indigenous Matters Section, Secretary of the IEEE P2890? Recommended Practice for Provenance of Indigenous Peoples? Data, Co-Chair of the UM Anthropology Repatriation Committee and as a member of OCLC Reimagine Descriptive Workflows Advisory Group and NISO Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion subcommittee.
? She is committed to advancing matters related to Indigenous peoples and creating meaningful change related to equity, diversity, and inclusivity within cultural memory professions working on a PhD related to Indigenous knowledges and cultural memory institutions.

4. Dr. Naxaxalhts?i, Albert (Sonny) McHalsie (Elder and Knowledge Keeper, Historian of the Stó:l? Research and Resource Management Centre)
? Dr. Naxaxalhts?i is the Cultural Advisor/Historian of the Stó:l? Research and Resource Management Centre. Naxaxalhts?i has worked for the Stó:l? as a researcher in cultural heritage and aboriginal rights and title issues since 1985. He currently acts as the cultural advisor on the Treaty Negotiation Team for the Stó:l? Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association.
? He was a co-author of the book I Am Stó:l?: Katherine Explores Her Heritage (1997) ? focusing on his family and his daughter. He contributed to and served on the editorial board of the award winning publication A Stó:l? Coast Salish Historical Atlas (2001). He was also the author of We Have to Take Care OF Everything That Belongs To Us in Bruce Miller?s Be of Good Mind (2007). He also wrote the foreword in Keith Thor Carlson?s The Power of Place, The Problem of Time (2010).


Dr. Hajah Norseha Unin, Senior Lecturer, Academy of Language Studies, University Technology Mara (UiTM) Sarawak, Samarahan Campus.
? Dr. Hjh. Norseha Unin is a Senior Lecturer with 31 years of experience teaching English at UiTM Sarawak. She received her education at Northern Illinois University in USA with a Master?s in Secondary Education and a Bachelor in English. Her PhD in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education was from Michigan State University in USA, where she conducted a study on Learning to Lead for Malay Women in Higher Education.
? As a consultant researcher, she has won several research grants for state-wide studies, including for Pustaka Negeri Sarawak, Sarawak Development Institute, and Sarawak Planning Unit. As an author, she co-authored a book entitled Sarawak Women in Education with a team of lecturers from University Malaysia Sarawak.
? As exco member for PROFES (Perkembangan Profesionalisme Pendidikan Sarawak), Dr. Norseha is known for implementing professional development courses for English educators in rural schools. As Deputy Chairman for PPSEAWA (Pan-Pacific Southeast Asia Women?s Association) Sarawak Chapter, she recently represented Malaysia at the 65th session of CSW - Commission on the Status of Women - on Gender equality & Women Empowerment, which was held virtually, in March 2021, through the United Nations in New York.

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