Much of Kadazan early history is best left to imagination.
Even if this is so, there are written works that point to their origin as the continent of Asia.
Some believe that the Kadazan ancestors came from present-day Yunnan in southern China. Others say that they "came from Mongolia and mixed with Tiong-kok." (Jane Mimie Malanjun). (Tiongkok is an Indonesian word to refer to China as a nation.) Thus, a Mongolian-Chinese mix.
Snapshot of Borneo region (from Membakut-Papar to Putatan-Penampang) mostly inhabited by Kadazans
The late Rev. Fr. Joseph Dapoz, called in a book "The Last Dinosaur" said that the Kadazans are Mongolians in origin. He argued that they have the Mongolian birth mark called "pihoh" (pihò) in the Kadazan language. This birth mark is found on the back side of new-born Kadazan babies.
Fr. Dapoz said that babies of people whose ancestors originate from China have this birth mark.
Southward-Bound or Northward-Bound Migrations?
Going back to prehistoric history, it was said that there were waves of migration among Asian people southwards from mainland Asia which we now know as China and Mongolia.
According to some writers of prehistoric Asia, the last waves of migration occurred before the second ice age which was between 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. It was argued that they went to settle in Taiwan first, before moving southwards. Perhaps.
(Check out this article on Prehistoric Asia)
Some writers stated that there were north-bound migrations from the south towards South East Asia. There were two groups, one group was of dark skin with curly hair and the other group was said to be fair-skinned. Are the 'orang asli' of Malaya and the Lundayeh descended respectively from these two groups?
Recently, a new theory had emerged that the migrations started from South East Asia where modern human arrived about 50,000 years ago. According to this theory, the ancestors of the Kadazan people would have been among the earliest settlers of South East Asia.
The "Out-of Taiwan" theory was refuted by a study conducted by Leeds University which is supported by HUGO (Human Gnome Organization). The "Out of South East Asia" is the newest theory on migration among Asian peoples.
It is reasonable to say that Kadazan early history is caught within this migration theories. They may have to wait for a long time to know what really happened.
Place Guarded by Majestic Nulu AkiNabalu
When the sea level rose up after the second ice age, the groups of migrating people from the north were trapped within the shores of islands that were created as the result of higher sea level. The island of Borneo was one of these islands.
Kadazan ancestors settled at a particular part of Borneo Island which later came to be known as North Borneo. When they reached this land for the first time, they saw a majestic mountain rising high into the sky. They believed that this is the land where Hinokizan, the name for God in their language, had called them to settle down and call home.
Many, if not most, of the present-day Kadazans still revere this mountain which their ancestors named Nulu
AkiNabalu (Nuhu Nabahu). To them, this mountain is still called Nulu AkiNabalu to this day. The fact that it is now named Mt. Kinabalu does not change this. The reverence for this mountain became very much evident after the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that shook the mountain on June 5, 2015.
The Past, Present and Future
Not much is written about Kadazan early history. Much of their past history is lost in the mist of time. What matters most is that they are here notwithstanding their on-going search for the missing parts of their people's history.
This is where the early Kadazans had lived, eked a living, died and were buried. Their descendants had lived here ever since. They will continue to live in this land until the end of time.