The Aneuk Jamee are found in the south-western part of Aceh in Sumatra. They live around the small bays and on the low plains hemmed in by the Bukit Barisan mountain range. One group of Aneuk Jamee who call themselves the Ba’apo live the farthest south.
The name Aneuk Jamee means “offspring of guests” or “newcomer” in the Aceh language. The name refers to Minangkabau people who migrated to the area in the 17th century. Gradually, they settled among the Aceh people in the area, a process facilitated by a common Islamic faith. Eventually, they came to feel that they were neither Aceh nor Minangkabau but rather a new people group with their own distinct culture and language. The Aneuk Jamee language is called Jamee or Jamu. The Aceh in southern Aceh can understand Jamee because the Minangkabau vocabulary is similar to Indonesian. However, most Aneuk Jamee do not understand or use the Aceh language.
What are their lives like?
Many Aneuk Jamee are fishermen, while others grow rice and fruit. Some Aneuk Jamee are permanent traders (baniago) while others, known as penggaleh, sell goods from village to village.
The Aneuk Jamee have three classes in their society. The nobles form the highest level. The middle level is formed by local leaders and religious leaders such as the prayer leaders, and Islamic judges. The common people are at the lowest level. Traditional leadership in a village contains a combination of Minangkabau and Aceh elements. These leaders are the village headman, the prayer-house leader, and the youth leader. This is somewhat different from the district level leadership, which follows traditional Aceh leadership patterns. In this pattern, there is an area headman, village headman, street leader, and elders.
What are their beliefs?
The Aneuk Jamee follow Islam. Like other Indonesians, Aneuk Jamee incorporate earlier beliefs and practices into Islam. The services of a dukun (shaman/healer) are still frequently used for various things. For example, a young man may ask the dukun to cause a girl to fall in love with him through a spell. The dukun may later be asked by the family to release a girl from this spell.
What are their needs?
Many of the boats used by the Aneuk Jamee fishermen are actually owned by residents of Medan and Banda Aceh. Thus, a program to finance the purchase of their own boats would be very strategic. Also, Aneuk Jamee farmers could use agricultural training, more efficient irrigation, and the provision of good fertilizer and seeds to increase crop yields so that their economy can improve.