Batin Sembilan is an indigenous community that has been active in the lowland forests of Sumatra between Jambi and South Sumatra since the 7th century, during the Sriwijaya Kingdom. They spread in the forest and moved to the area supplying forest products to be sent by the Sriwijaya Kingdom through the Malacca Strait.
Referring to several sources, the Batin Sembilan tribe is descended from the Jambi Sultanate which controlled several headwaters. Traditionally, these ethnic groups actually live nomadic in the forest. Different from the Orang Rimba who live in Bukit Duabelas National Park (TNBD), Batin Sembilan is more open and quick to adapt to outsiders.
The Batin Sembilan community interacted with immigrants from the Dutch era and accepted the entry of colonial people who dug oil wells. The opening of this interaction causes them to quickly adapt to change and even settle with the villagers.
The government groups Batin Sembilan into the term Suku Anak Dalam and equates them with other marginal tribes as the Kubu Tribe. The Batin Sembilan young generation today chooses modernization, leaves forest work, and tends to work in companies, especially in oil palm plantations.
The population of Batin Sembilan in Jambi Province is around 1,491 families (KKI Warsi, 1998), scattered in 20 villages in three districts, namely Batanghari, Muarojambi, and Sarolangun. Some families are found in the Musi Banyuasin area, South Sumatra. Most (85 percent) live in villages and the periphery of the company’s concession areas with very marginal conditions. Around 15 percent or 300 families live in the Hutan Harapan area.
The Inner Nine who live in Hutan Harapan still practice traditional practices and carry out cosmology that reflects long interactions with the environment and nature. The forest for them is the land for implementing the practice of shifting cultivation, searching for non-timber forest products, hunting grounds, finding a place for medicine, and maintaining traditional knowledge systems.
Hutan Harapan Management gives special attention to the Batin Sembilan Tribe through various empowerment activities. Among them, the provision of basic health, basic education for school-age children, distribution and development of utilization of non-timber forest products, water supply, settlement, and electric lighting. (*)