An Indigenous clan fears it will lose its place in the world as the government pursues a quest to open a spaceport and lure the billionaire SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
For 15 generations, members of the Abrauw clan have lived much like their ancestors. They farm with wooden plows in patches of the rainforest, gather medicinal plants and set traps to catch snakes and wild boar, the New York Times reports.
The land they occupy on Biak island is everything to them: their identity, the source of their livelihood and the link to their forebears. But now the tiny clan fears it will lose its place in the world as Indonesia pursues its longstanding quest to join the space age.
The Indonesian government claims to have acquired 250 acres of the clan’s ancestral land decades ago and has planned since 2017 to build a small-scale spaceport there to launch rockets. Clan leaders say the project would force them from their homes.
Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, personally pitched SpaceX’s founder, Elon Musk, last year on the idea of launching rockets from Indonesia, without mentioning a site. Mr. Musk has yet to commit to a deal or comment on it publicly. But the possibility of his involvement has spurred a flurry of activity by Biak officials to promote the location, as well as renewed opposition from the island’s Indigenous people.
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