It's Awful Such Astounding Creations Could Soon Die Out In Borneo

Lauren Burgoon
What's it like to know your tribe's most important tradition will die with you?

What's it like to be the very last person in your tribe to practice an ancient craft?

With the sheer responsibility and pride that holds, it must be an equal sense of foreboding that soon your people's traditions will die out.

Balan, part of the Penan tribe in Borneo, knows what this is all about. He's the last person in his tribe to make blowpipes, hunting tools that ensured his ancestors' survival for generations.

With the conveniences of technology and reach of globalization, it's not hard to see why other Penan haven't taken up blowpipe making. Balan takes filmmakers through a painstaking process that requires days of careful manual labor.

The job, so important to his tribe's past, comes with its own dangers. 

"It will kill you," he says of the poison arrows that arm the blowpipe. "Our life in there, it just disappears."

Balan's story is part of a larger documentary, "Sunset Over Selungo," about the jungles of Borneo.