History of Kayan

The Orang Ulu / Kayan

The Orang Ulu ethnic groups can be located in the state of Sarawak in such areas like Belaga, Bintulu, Miri, Baram, Bario, Lawas, Trusan and Limbang. It was believed that in Kuching alone, the Orang Ulu population numbered up to about one thousand – the community’s urban migration being mostly due to better employment, education and business opportunities available in Sarawak’s capital cities1. The term Orang Ulu literally translates as “people of the upper river”. Based predominantly on oral history sources, the term “Orang Ulu” – as used by Bruneian and Chinese traders for instance – was at one time referring only to the Kayan and the Kenyah people. The term became more popular during the era of Datuk Temenggong Oyong Lawai Jau (1950-1974) the paramount chief who was the leader of the Kayan-Kenyah community. The first official documentation which formally introduced the term “Orang Ulu” is the Orang Ulu Customary Code of Fines (1957) written by the Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak. But as mentioned above, the term referred only to the Kayan and Kenyah peoples.

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