The issuance of the Regional Regulation on the Recognition of the Mentawai Indigenous Peoples provides legal protection for Indigenous rights at the district level. However, new laws and inaction by the central government have paved the way for timber companies to exploit their land, natural resources and culture.
Gerson Merari is an indigenous journalist from the Mentawai Islands, West Sumatera. He started his journalism career when he joined Puailiggoubat, a local media outlet, in 2002, which is now known as Mentawaikita.com. Gerson wishes to see the stories of Mentawai indigenous communities and their environment to reach a wider audience beyond the West Sumatera province. In 2021, Gerson received a grant from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network to report on the impacts of legal recognition and industrialization on Menwatai indigenous communities.