Kadazan History Timeline

This is a preliminary Kadazan History Timeline. It is subject to changes as and when necessary or when new information become available. It is hoped that little by little Kadazan history will become more complete.

Kadazan Pre-History

Second Ice Age
    The second Ice Age ended around 12,000 B.C. (See Note 1)

    The ancestors of the Kadazan people were believed to be among groups of people who migrated from what is now mainland China. The place of origin was said to be either Yunnan in China or Mongolia.

    When the ice melted, these groups of migrants were trapped in the land where they settled.

    Happenings during this long period in Kadazan History timeline need researching before the evidence are gone forever. Perhaps these are already gone.

Kadazan History Timeline could only state the following based on information obtained from an exhibit at the State Library Donggongon sometime ago (namely, from 1220 to 1400 A.D. up to 'intrusion by outsiders).

1220 - 1400 A.D.

    It was believed that a group of people formed a close-knit community at Tampios at the foothills of Mount Aki-Nabalu. It is written that these people were called "Tolinting". (Tolinting is a type of grass believed by the natives to have medicinal qualities.)

    This was about 600 to 800 years ago. The time period needs verifying. It would appear that a longer period is more acceptable. If not, then you may argue that the Dusun Lotud, the Tatana and Sungai, for example, may have come from groups distinct from the Tolinting.

    The Tolinting settlement at Tampios could have been a later development after people started to develop the desire to live as a community due to several reasons. One of these was safety in numbers because of the increasingly dangerous environment due to the intrusion by outsiders.

    One can argue that the family of Aki Maragang were among the first settlers at Tampias. Later, other families could have arrived to settle within the area. So, you can somehow assume that Aki Maragang and family were Tolintings.

    There were waves of local migrations when the Tampias community became over-crowded. The children of Aki Maragang, three sons and a daughter, most probably, were the leaders of the groups migrating to different parts of the land.

    As the result of these migrations, the western coastal areas from what is now Papar to Kudat, the interior and the land to the east came to be settled by descendants of the children of Aki Maragang, through Runsud, Rongguvai, Tomui and Sayap.

P.S.Shim's Book

P.S. Shim's book "Inland People of Sabah - Before, During and After Nunuk Ragang" published in 2007, states that the ancestors of the Kadazandusuns came from Baram in Sarawak starting from the year 1200 A.D.

The Kadazan tribe settled in the Kimanis-Papar plains. Another group settled at Bundu which later became the Tatana tribe. Still another group went to settle at Tuaran whose descendants are the Lotud people.

The largest group went to settle at Tampios and from there the different tribes spread to different parts of North Borneo.

Around 1800, a large group went northwards to Putatan-Penampang. This was given the name 'Tangaah' (now spelt " Tangaa' ").

It is interesting to note that the time periods coincide. If proven true, this Kadazan history timeline will need amendment.

Kadazan settlements, Kimanis-Papar to Putatan-Penampang
Keningau Oathstone (GS Sundang insisted on this)

Kadazan History Timeline: Recent History

This Kadazan History Timeline needs to fast-track to the future until such time when new information become available regarding events that happened between the migrations from Tampios to the present time.


    Mill Hill Catholic priests knew of "the language of Putatan" the language spoken by the non-Muslim native people living in and around Putatan. It was not mentioned that this was "Dusun" language.

    It is now known that this language is the Tangaah Language which has become a major part of the Kadazan Language.


    Owen Rutter, in his book "The Pagans of North Borneo" mentioned that the native people in Papar called themselves "Kadazan" and not by any other name.

    Kadazan means "people." They are people of the land.


    This period saw the rise of nationalism among the Kadazan people. Education had opened the eyes and minds of the Kadazan people. This aspiration to unite as one people inspired Kadazan leaders to come together to discuss the future of their people.

    Indeed, this is one of the important events mentioned in this Kadazan History timeline.

    These leaders included the late Donald Stephens (later Tun Fuad Stephens), Peter Mojuntin, Vincent Lajingau, Darius Binion, Anthony Gibon, Fred Sinidol, Sikopit Siganul, and Fred Tan (Jinu), to name a few.


    Sabah Times, owned by the late Donald (Tun Fuad) Stephens, ran pages in the Kadazan Language for the first time.

           Kadazan Society of Penampang was formed.


    A fifteen (15) minutes programme was aired through the local radio.


    Arguments arose as to whether the name "Kadazan" or "Dusun" should be used.

    Differences that arose gave some leaders the opportunity to manipulate sentiments for their own personal gains.

    Later, (see below) leaders would agree on the term "Kadazan-Dusun." General acceptance by the Kadazan or Dusun community remains elusive.


    The Kadazan Society of Penampang led to the formation of the Kadazan Cultural Association Sabah.
    The Kadazan Cultural Association was registered on April 29 by J. P. Rutherford, the then Deputy Registrar of Societies Malaysia.


    Tragic plane crash in which prominent Kadazan leaders perished. This was, without doubt, the darkest hour in Kadazan history.

    They had a hard time looking for capable leaders to take over from these leaders. The fate of the Kadazan people became uncertain.


           Parti Bersatu Sabah led by Pairin Kitingan won Sabah election.

November 4-5, 1989

    Conference that decided the use of the "Kadazandusun" as the best alternative in resolving the "Kadazan" or "Dusun" identity crisis. This was done to get rid of impediment to the growth and development of the Kadazan-Dusun community in the socio-cultural, economic and political arenas
    Various attempts to include Kadazan language as a school subject were not successful.
    On September 25, Kadazan Cultural Association was renamed Kadazandusun Cultural Association.

           Pairin Kitingan ceased to be Sabah's Chief Minister.

May 1995

    It was proposed that two competitions to be organized during the the May Harvest Festival Celebration that involve the use of rice wine be scrapped.

April 1995

    The Kadazan language was accepted for inclusion as a school subject mainly due to the efforts of Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

    Kadazan-Dusun language was agreed as the new language ecology.

October 24, 1998

    The Kadazan Language was made an optional course at University Sabah Malaysia (UMS). Only non-Kadazan-Dusuns are allowed to take up this subject as a second language (?)

1999 Census Projection

    The number of Kadazan-Dusuns hovered around 750,000. This number may not include Kadazan-Dusuns who are Muslims. Wikipedia puts Kadazandusun population as around 1.06 million (2017?).
    The Kadazan-Dusun language was taught to 19,731 children by 881 trained teachers in 440 schools.

November 5, 2001

    It is reported in the New Straits Times that the Kadazan language is thriving. This may not reflect the entire truth.

April 22, 2005                                                                                   

          New Sabah Times reports Datuk (now Tan Sri) Joseph Pairin Kitingan as having urged Kadazan-Dusuns to preserve their mother tongue.

    Daily Express reports Datuk Pairin as having said that preservation of the Kadazan-Dusun language should start at home.


    University of Maryland's Assessment for Kadazans in Malaysia (Minorities at Risk Project) lists Kadazans as a group at risk, being at Level 3 Risk out of 4 Levels. (Level 4 is most at risk)
    Kadazan-Dusun language is made an examination subject for the PMR 2008, that involved Secondary Three students.
    Catholic Sabah reduced pages written in the Kadazan Language from four pages to two.

    Meanwhile, local newspapers continued to run pages in the Kadazan Language.

Early 2013

    The leaders of three Kadazan-Dusun-Murut-based political parties, namely, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and Tan Sri Joseph Kurup pledged to work for the unity of the KDM people.

    This is a good sign but it may not last because the main reason for the united stand was political in nature.

5 May 2013: 13th Malaysian General Election

    Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, the President of UPKO, lost the Penampang Parliamentary seat to Darell Leiking of PKR.

    Datuk Philip Lasimbang of UPKO lost to Terence Siambun for the Moyog Seat.

    Meanwhile, Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan, the President of PBS, retained the Tambunan seat and the Keningau Parliamentary Seat.

    Tan Sri Joseph Kurup of PBRS also won.

    Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan of STAR Sabah won the Bingkor Seat while Datuk Bumburing, the former Deputy President of UPKO won the Tamparuli seat. He resigned from UPKO just before the election and formed an NGO affiliated to the opposition front led by PKR Anwar Ibrahim.

Early 2014

    Datuk Madius Tangau took over from Tan Sri Bernard Dompok as leader of UPKO.

    UPKO Youth Leader criticised Tangau's reappointment of the previous supreme council members.


    Huguan Siou Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan initiates hand-over to Datuk Maximus Ongkili as leader of PBS.

    Momogun National Congress (MNC) is established and ruffled feathers by its proposal to use 'Momogun' to classify the natives of Sabah.

    KDM people leaders become more splintered when they formed political parties. PBS is now led by Ongkili, UPKO by Tangau, Star by Jeffrey Kitingan, Parti Cinta Sabah by Bumburing, and Parti Harapan Sabah by Lajim. It is said that there are other KDM political parties.

It is necessary to record these events as information for future generations.

The ONE Single Event that Kadazans MUST NOT EVER EVER FORGET! as per this Kadazan History Timeline

Statue of the Late Datuk Peter Mojuntin at Donggongon, Penampang

One single event of fairly recent occurrence that needs mentioning without fail in this Kadazan History timeline is the 6th June, 1976 plane tragedy. In that history changing event, three prominent Kadazan leaders perished.

In this Kadazan History timeline, the word "Kadazan-Dusun" is used as not referring to a particular race. It is the name used to classify the various ethnic tribes having similar cultural background.

There was a recent move to do away with Kadazandusun-Murut and to replace it with 'Momogun'. This has already drawn many comments and caused apprehension among many, including leaders. The meaning of 'momogun' will necessarily include natives and all other people who had lived here for a long time. There is a need for all Kadazan-Dusun and Murut, including leaders, to exercise caution for fear that words can unite but can also cause division.

As a further explanation, Kadazan History Timeline wishes to define Kadazandusun in the way that the 1989 Conference meant to use it.

The use of the term "Kadazan-Dusun" or sometimes KDM - to include Murut - demonstrates these people's desire to be one united people. Kadazan History Timeline hopes to show this more clearly in due time.

Privacy Policy

To Home Page


1. Around 1958, the Harrisons discovered a human skull in the Niah Caves in Baram. Carbon testing put the age of the skull as 37,000 years old. This could shed some light on the ancestors of the natives who inhabit these lands.