By Jack Profijt.

What does the word heritage mean to you? Or if I asked, what does preserving our heritage mean to you? The reason I ask this question is because, as many of you know, I am the admin for the “Dutch-Indo Community” (formerly known as “Old Dutch Indonesian Community”) on Facebook, and lately there have been many comments on what is and what is not part of our Indo culture. One of the biggest examples, that comes to mind, is that many members of the group suggest that political posts should not be discussed in this group. Some members suggest that the reason they joined the group was to predominantly discuss our heritage, the old days, food, and so on.

Past, Present, and Future

The word heritage, for me, means or conjures up many different thoughts. First, this word admittedly pushes my mind into the past—or better described as what I perceive as the past. For most of us, we focus on WWll, the Bersiap, and the Indonesian war of Independence. The reason I say perceived past is because I wasn’t there: any perception of the past would come from what I was able to find on my own. To say the least, this time was a defining moment in our history and heritage. However, the truth about our heritage is that it stretches back literally hundreds of years, or thousands (if you consider our past extending prior to the Dutch colonization of Indonesia). The word heritage also pushes my mind to the multicultural aspect of our history and our blood lines. In our midst we have obviously Dutch Indos, but we also have Indos made up of Chinese, German, Italian, South African, Australian blood lines, etc. This list is endless. I like to look at our heritage as branches of the same tree.

By pushing our minds into the past, we forget that our heritage is not only in the past. I think that many of us get stuck with thinking about what was and sometimes forget about what is right now. Those of you that are reading this right now, in 2017, are living in the present. Therefore, our heritage is here, now, in the present.

To preserve our heritage, we need to start archiving things today. So that when today becomes yesterday, it will be preserved forever. But if we do nothing today and today becomes yesterday, then nothing will be in the past and our heritage will have died.

Heritage is Multidirectional

I know you may be asking “what the heck is a multidirectional heritage?”, well here is my explanation. Many of us believe that heritage can only be unidirectional, meaning that it can only go in one direction—and that is backwards into the past. However, I believe that heritage is a multidirectional and multidimensional concept that exists in the past, present, and future, all at the same time. Also, our heritage is not only confined to Indo things. In order to fully understand where we are in our own history, we need to have a broad understanding of what the current historical situation is. We need to have an understanding of the political, social, and legal climates where our communities are located. In my opinion, these items are just as important today as they were in times past.

The reason I believe this is hard to explain but I think the best explanation I can give is this: our heritage exists in what we say and how we say it, in what we eat and how we cook it. It exists in how we act as people and in each individual personality. It exists in how we interact with the people and places around us. It also exists in what we find important and what we do not. Our heritage exists in our pride and our loyalty that is exhibited in such ferocity in times of trouble that it can be frightening to those that do not understand it. Our heritage exists in what we love and what we cry for. It exists in the heart felt pain of our elders and it exists in the voices of the young that say “Who am I?”.

I think that as a group, culture, family, or whatever we want to call ourselves, we need to move away from the singular idea that heritage can only exist yesterday. We need to move to a more plural and inclusive concept of our heritage that will assist The Indo Project and other groups working for the preservation.


  1. Hi Jack,
    Good article. I agree that most people have a singular approach to their heritage. Personally, I extend my heritage as meaning that in addition to my immediate past, to also include my contribution to my descendants going forward and my cousins (going sideways).

    From a genealogical perspective, trawling back on my Indo-German mother lineage is proving rather difficult due to the lack of available records. After leaving Indonesia, my mother’s family and my father (Dutch) moved to Netherlands. One of my mother’s brothers moved from there to USA, and we moved to Australia. Rumour has it that Netherlands climate was too cold for mum

    Through DNA testing I have been fortunate enough to match with some Indo-Dutch and Indo-German cousins in USA and Europe and look forward to being able to ascertain where they link into my family so that I may be able to connect them with my descendants and have a better idea just how large my extended family is.

    • That has always been the problem with INDOs looking for their past, is the language barrier, and lack of understandable information. My group The Dutch Indo Community on Facebook is a direct result of this issue. I couldn’t find the information so I though let’s put out a line into the electronic current that is the internet and see what I catch. It is always nice to hear that lost families have been connected.

  2. Yes, multidirectional and multidimensional heritage is where our next generations are at and going. Therefor as you say, where we live, “the need to have an understanding of the political, social, and legal climates where our communities are located” are very important in the present as well, as those from the past, which will affect our coming generations. Good explanation Jack.

    • Thanks Leroy, I think understanding what our heritage is, and how we perceive it as INDOs is key to preserving it. Allowing history to happen without taking an active role, in its creation and preservation is a sure fire way to ensure our extinction.

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