Indo profile by Jeff Keasberry

“We weren’t alone. There were many more like us, and knowing this brought about a sudden comfort that filled a void from all these years of confusion and isolation,” said Jamie Stern, 3rd generation Indo, when she came to find out that there’s a name for her mom and her and that name is Indo.

Her Oma and Opa were both born in the Dutch East Indies. Her mother was the third of four children, born in Semarang in 1958. Soon after, the family repatriated to Holland where they would spend the next four years. They immigrated to the United States in 1962. Jamie explained “While my mother was growing up, her parents spoke very little about their past. This severely limited the information that my mother had access to about her cultural past and in turn limited what she could share with me.”  However, Jamie’s grandparents were not intentionally withholding information.  “There was not much time for the family to mingle or gather with other Indos. Oma was busy taking care of one of her sons suffering from terminal muscular dystrophy while raising three other children and Opa worked three jobs to support his family of six. The main focus was on surviving and assimilating. As my mother said, assimilating for Opa meant achieving the American dream; home ownership and gainful employment ” said Jamie.

Growing up, Jamie and her sister ate Indonesian and Indo foods at Oma’s house, without really focusing on the fact that it was very different from typical American family meals. They knew their Oma spoke Dutch. “We would mimic phrases like ‘goedenacht’, ‘ik hou van je’, but regrettably we never learned to speak it.” That was the extent of her Indo knowledge until she began investigating her heritage in her early 20’s.

Encouraged by another Indo enthusiast she continued her research on the Internet, to discover that Dutch and Indonesian was not an uncommon mix at all. More research led to valuable contacts. They turned out to be the founders of The Indo Project who invited her to join the board of directors as the youngest member in 2011.

Currently Jamie is employed as a certified Aviation Weather Forecaster. While studying for her Masters degree in Geography, she started collecting invaluable cultural information. The key questions she needed to know for her research included but were not limited to:  Where is everyone today? How have we assimilated? What is happening to our culture? To answer these salient questions, she created a survey that The Indo Project distributed to their readers. The response was tremendous and provided her with so much more knowledge and insight of the culture that she was previously unaware of. This survey gave her direction in which to pursue further research on the Indo culture.  Currently, our newest survey is busy collecting data and information. It’s titled the 2012 Indo Survey (link will be provided)

Based on her data and feelings, the timeliness of her research is going to serve as the veritable backbone to supporting the continued awareness of Indo culture and will hopefully lead to acknowledgement by the U.S government who currently does not recognize Indos as a unique culture group on the U.S. census.

So far in the U.S. 45% of the survey response have come from third-generation Indos. This statistic clearly indicates this surge in heritage and cultural interest by our younger community; due largely in part to social networking. It is also of vital importance to get responses from our first-generation Indos, so that they can pass down to us their first-hand knowledge of the Indo experience at its impetus.

Ultimately, she can see this spread of information culminate in the publishing of literature –in English- as well as the creation of art, cinema, music and cuisine. “Wouldn’t it be nice to see many of these heart-wrenching and proud stories be recognized by Hollywood; both television documentaries and big screen stories like James Cameron’s historical fiction, Titanic for example.”

Currently, our 2012 Indo Survey is still open and receiving valuable input. Please contribute to the groundbreaking findings!


Indo Survey 2012 Update – NOV 27, 2012;
The Indo Survey 2012 is coming along wonderfully. So far we’ve heard from over 860 people. In the U.S. 45% of the survey responses have come from third-generation Indos. This statistic clearly indicates a surge in heritage and cultural interest by our younger community; due largely in part to social networking. Our third generation is very interested in learning more about their heritage but one issue is the language barrier. Our statistics show that 65% of the U.S. third generation Indo population learned English as their first language. Only 5% of those individuals went on to learn Dutch fluently. This means that 60% of the third generation is not able to speak Dutch and therefore cannot understand the Dutch documentaries on the Indo experience. Almost 70% of this English-speaking group said that they would love to be able to read books and watch films/documentaries about the Indo experience. This brings to surface the necessity for our younger Indo generations to have information accessible in English which is a main priority of The Indo Project.
Another piece of interesting information coming from the survey –and something to have pride in—are the Indos’ educational accomplishments. Both second and third generations surpass the U.S. national average with Masters and advanced professional degrees.
U.S. National Average from 2005 (ages 25 and older)
Second Generation Indos
Third Generation Indos
Advanced professional degree (PhD, MD, Ed., JD etc.)
Get ready for the unveiling of our survey results in early 2013! 


  1. Dear Jamie,

    I just read your article and given our similar last names – and being both third genereation Indo – it got me very curious.

    My grandmother once told me that we – Stern family – have family in California. But there was hardly any contact with them after they moved to the US many many years ago. I was wondering if our families are maybe connected.

    I look forward hearing from you!

  2. Please let me fill in your survey. I was born in Bandung, in Cimahi, a military barrack, in 1947. My family moved to Nederland in 1950 and then to the US in 1960. I would love to be more connected to my heritage. Thank you. Hartelijk bedankt. Terimah Kasih!

  3. I did also your survey and with pleasure. I am now 76 and came to the US in July 1981 because of an engineering offer I could not refuse, especially because of the location close to LA.
    I love blogging and being a member of forums.
    But here is the main reason of this email.
    By blogging on a Indo site in Dutch, because this site is located in the Netherlands, I found out that there is also a large gap between the Dutch Indos and we the Amerindos.
    There is a website called with some very intelligent people, but often they think totally different than another Amerindo and I. And I am still fluent in the Dutch language.
    I am only 31 years in California, but I have the feeling we Amerindos are growing appart from the Dutch Indos.
    One of the reasons I see, we have learned to stand on our own feet and they have always the feeling a support from the government behind them.

    Maybe it would be nice to also have a blog discussion on your site. It will bring the first, second and third generation closer to each other.

    Also for your information and the organization behind this site, I am writing in english an ebook about indonesian cooking. In the 1981 to 1987 I help my cousin with his catering business to cook indo food for clubs like Avio and many other private parites and weddings.

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