Natinggir: Mangaramoti Tano Ni Ompung (To Blessed Mother's Land)
Kaleb Sitompul (Indonesia)

Following massive deforestation on Java, the industry has significantly impacted and grown on Sumatra Island. Huta Natinggir was originally a part of the Nagori Lintong Region during the Dutch colonial era. Almost all of the people in Nagori Lintong are Pasaribu from Huta Natinggir.

Huta Natinggir (Natinggir Village) is a region of the Pomparan Op Raja Nasomalomarhohos Pasaribu Indigenous People. This town is located on a hill in the Toba Forest. It functions as a rainwater gathering place and a frankincense plant forest. They lived on Huta Natinggir for around 325 years, or 13 to 14 generations. However, the establishment of the Toba Pulp Lestari business in 1991 eventually forced the Huta Natinggir people to lose their land and traditions.

Op. Raja Pasaribu Nasomalomarhohos Natinggir's ancestors used to breed buffalo, ride horses, and farm in the jungle. Unfortunately, the development of Toba Pulp Lestari at the time changed the parjampalan (livestock grazing) field into a monoculture plant. As a result, feeding animals became increasingly difficult. Furthermore, the company's presence impacts the domestic space, as access to clean water has become increasingly difficult. Toxins have contaminated the flow of clean water due to eucalyptus plantations. Chemical waste from fertilizers and pharmaceuticals finds its way into clean water sources. In addition, communities face checks, intimidation, and the sound of tree-chopping equipment on their land. Fertile soil no longer supports plant growth. Yields are no longer plentiful.

The inherited land gradually faded from memory. Survivor Frankincense plants are getting increasingly scarce. Eucalyptus trees also covered other areas, such as villages and cemeteries. The wonderful upstream water of Lake Toba, which comes from 167,912 hectares of the Toba forest region, suffered from a lack of access to pure water as a result of the concession extension and the existence of this government-licensed company. Because of the company's destruction and claim to community-owned land, they became guerrilla replanters.

They attempt to recollect and strengthen their resistance by archiving, forming communities, and planning to construct their own living space. They built a collective house, seized the land, and staged a massive protest against the corporation.

Given the importance of generation and land to this tribe, it is difficult not to join and contribute to this effort as a Batak generation. I want to see Toba not just for its beautiful beauty but also for the future of this generation and this region. Given the rise in tourism in Toba, it is also critical to protect the forest. I didn't want the Batak community and land to become overly reliant on industry. The project will demonstrate the presence of the generation, Op Raja Pasaribu Nasomalamarhohos Natinggir. To keep their homes on customary land in order to retain their identity and pass it on to future generations. And to motivate other indigenous peoples to protect their lands.


Kaleb Sitompul is an Indonesian freelancer who specializes in film direction and photography. Kaleb began exploring other styles of photography after beginning his professional career as a music photographer in 2014.

He majored in film studies at the Jakarta Institute of Arts in 2016. He mixes his photographic experience with his major as a film director to learn about storytelling and narrative.

During a pandemic change, he experimented with narrative through photography and enrolled in a one-year mentorship at the Pannafoto Institute. He is interested in the stories of local people outside of Java, which he believes are important to talk about. Kaleb has been exploring stories and issues in North Sumatra using visual forms such as photography and cinema since 2021. This year, his next exhibition will be a part of the Objectifs 2023 Grants Emerging Category Award.

Aside from work, he continues working on the story of North Sumatra. He also founded Sekelakfoto and Kinocolony, two alternative visual (photography and cinema) communities in Medan, with his colleagues.