Indigenous Peoples of East Timor

Tetum and Mambai


There is over 300,000 people under this culture.


slash and burn cultivation of maize, sweet potatoes, dry rice and other vegetables. Crop fields are sown around corn shrines. Some people will raise pigs and some buffalo.


This culture believes that women represent the sacred world and men the secular. these people observe complex rites that are meant to join the secular and sacred worlds, ensuring a good harvest. Religious shamans, being male or female act as interpreters of spirit.


Each village is governed by a headman who is watched over by a chief. tetum decent is patrilineal.


There is about 80,000 people of this culture. Range from the Dili district to the south coast of East Timor.


This culture farms maize, rice, and root vegetables.