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North Sulawesi - Indonesia

The name of the land of Minahasa has been changed several times: Batacina-Malesung-Minaesa and then finally the current name Minahasa, meaning "becoming one united". This name dates from the war against the southern Kingdom of Bolaang Mangondow. However, other sources cite that the original name of Minahasa was Malesung, meaning "paddy rotary", then changed to Se Mahasa, meaning "they that unite," and finally Minahasa, meaning "becoming one united."

North Sulawesi never developed any large empire. In 670, the leaders of the different tribes, who all spoke different languages, met by a stone known as Watu Pinawetengan. There they founded a community of independent states, who would form one unit and stay together and would fight any outside enemies if they were attacked.

Until well into the 19th century the Minahasa was made up of rivaling warrior societies that practiced headhunting. Only during 'Pax Neerlandica' of the formal colonisation of the Dutch East Indies did the state of permanent internal warfare and the practice of headhunting subside.

The Origin of Minahasa People :

The Minahasa region of north Sulawesi is thought to have first been inhabited by humans in the late third and second millennia BC. The Austronesian people originally inhabited southern China before moving and colonising areas in Taiwan, the northern Philippines, the southern Philippines, and on to Borneo, Sulawesi, and the Moluccas.

According to Minahasa mythology the Minahasans are descendants of Toar and Lumimuut. Initially, the descendants of Toar-Lumimuut were divided into 3 groups: Makatelu-pitu (three times seven), Makaru-siuw (two times nine) and Pasiowan-Telu (nine times three).

They multiplied quickly. But soon there were disputes among these people. Their leaders named Tona'as then decided to meet and talk about this.

They met in Awuan (north of the current Tonderukan hill). That meeting was called Pinawetengan u-nuwu (dividing of language) or Pinawetengan um-posan (dividing of ritual). At that meeting the descendants were divided into three groups named Tonsea, Tombulu, and Tontemboan corresponding to the groups mentioned above. At the place where this meeting took place a memorial stone called Watu Pinabetengan (Stone of Dividing) was then built. It is a favourite tourist destination.

The groups Tonsea, Tombulu, and Tontemboan then established their main territories which were Maiesu, Niaranan, and Tumaratas respectively. Soon several villages were established outside these territories. These new villages then became a ruling center of a group of villages called puak, later walak, comparable to the present-day district.

Subsequently a new group of people arrived in Pulisan peninsula. Due to numerous conflicts in this area, they then moved inland and established villages surrounding a large lake. These people were therefore called Tondano, Toudano or Toulour (meaning water people). This lake is now the Tondano lake.

In the following years, more groups came to Minahasa.

There were :

  • People from the islands of Maju and Tidore who landed in Atep. These people were the ancestors of the subethnic Tonsawang.
  • People from Tomori Bay. These were the ancestors of the subethnic Pasam-bangko (Ratahan dan Pasan)
  • People from Bolaang Mangondow who were the ancestors of Ponosakan (Belang).
  • People from the Bacan archipelago and Sangi, who then occupied Lembeh, Talisei Island, Manado Tua, Bunaken and Mantehage. These were the subethnic Bobentehu (Bajo). They landed in the place now called Sindulang. They then established a kingdom called Manado which ended in 1670 and became walak Manado.
  • People from Toli-toli, who in the early 18th century landed first in Panimburan and then went to Bolaang-Mangondow and finally to the place where Malalayang is now located. These people were the ancestors of the subethnic Bantik.

These are the nine sub-ethnic groups in Minahasa, which explains the number 9 in Manguni Maka-9:

  • Tonsea,
  • Tombulu,
  • Tontemboan,
  • Tondano,
  • Tonsawang,
  • Pas'an Ratahan (Bentenan),
  • Ponosakan,
  • Babontehu,
  • Bantik.

Eight of these ethnic groups are also separate linguistic groups.

The name Minahasa itself arose at the time the Minahasans fought against Bolaang Mangondow. Among the Minahasan heroes in these wars against Bolaang Mangondow are: Porong, Wenas, Dumanaw and Lengkong (in the war near Lilang village),Gerungan, Korengkeng, Walalangi (near Panasen, Tondano), Wungkar, Sayow, Lumi, and Worotikan (in the war along Amurang Bay).

Until the dominance of Dutch influence in the 17th and 18th century the Minahassans lived in warrior societies that practised headhunting.


Waruga - A place where you can see the unique way of Minahasan ancestor to buried the corpses, not under the ground but inside the stone. Located in Airmadidi.

Mt. Lokon & Mt. Mahawu - The volcanic mountains Lokon (1,580 m) and Mahawu (1,311 m) both have crater lakes of considerable beauty. Lokon is considered the more beautiful of the two but Mahawu is safer to climb. The trip to the top of Lokon should be made only byclimbers in reasonable condition. The steaming crater lies 600 m below the peak of the mountain and the lake is about 60 m deep.

Kali Waterfall - Located in Kali Village, Pineleng, about 10 km from Manado, this natural 60 m waterfall is an ideal place to enjoy nature and fresh water pools at the base of the falls. It is easily reachable from Manado by public transportation followed by a short 30 - 45 minute hike past the village.

Linow lake - A small, highly sulphurous lake of 35 Ha,which bubbles at the edges and has steam jets.The lake changes color, depending upon the light and viewing perspective, to shades of light blue, green, or turquoise.Take a microlet from the Tomohon bus terminal, get off at the intersection at the lake, and walk ( about 700 m ) along the access road to the lake from Lahendong village.

Woloan - This village is a center for traditional Minahasan wooden house-building. It is located just a few km from Tomohon.

Temboan & Rurukan Village - Both these villages were launched as village and community based model tourism villages. They are located approximately 30 km from Manado, and can be reached by bus. The abundance of flowers, cash crops, cool fresh air and the beautiful view to Lake Tondano and Bitung Habour make both of these villages an interesting stop. The villages have convenient homestays as well as a cultural performance stage.

Tondano Lake - A large scenic lake with clear water, overlooking the Lembean mountain ranges. This 4,278 Ha lake is surrounded by picturesque villages, rice fields and in some parts, green hills. Its abundant fish provide a livelihood for the native population nearby.Good for boating, fishing, and water skiing.

Ranopaso Hot spring - The name "Ranopaso" means hot water. Hot springs are scattered across this lovely area of traditional villages. Located in Koya Villages, 3 km from Tondano, it is worth a visit.

Pulutan Village - This village has a pottery industry. It is located just a few km from Tondano. We can see the locals producing a pottery from the clay.

Rafting Nimanga River - With Waterfalls Located near Sonder Village. Rafting on the Minanga River is becoming more and more popular for sport enthusiasts. It offers a variety of white water rafting challenges with difficulty levels from 3-4. This river has also two waterfalls, one in Tincep village with a height of 70 m and the other in Timbukar village with a height of 90 m.

Horse racing arena - This arena is located in Tompaso. Horse racing events are regularly held here.

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