On 26th August 2009 Gati villages in the SPF held a 'village congress' to formally endorse its Indigenous Tenure Commission. Such groupsare registered with the Ministry of Interior, and to date only three other villages nationwide have achieved this. WCS facilitated the formation of an indigenous tenure group and the village elected an executive committee in June 2008. Regular consultation and training followed as the executive helped the village define land- and resource-use rules, and were guided through the complex process of legal recognition at commune, district and provincial levels.
In spite of torrential rains, strong winds and nearly impassable roads dozens of guests travelled to Gati to mark this important event. These visitors including Mdme Excellency Men Maly of the National Senate, Mondulkiri Governor Excellency Chan Yoeun, representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Provincial Department Land, Forestry Cantonment, the Provincial Technical Advisor and members of civil society. The morning's events were coordinated by the head of the Sre Preah Commune Council who called on the members of the committee to introduce themselves and announce the rules of the Tenure Commission. With the full support of the village the Commission was endorsed and a traditional Bunong blessing to village spirits was held. This was followed by customary music and dancing and a celebratory feast.
One of the most esteemed guests as National Assembly member Excellency Rot Surim. He is a Bunong Elder originally from Gati. He said that he was happy to see that the village now has a stronger voice and that he will work with national assembly to help support the creation of indigenous commissions, and that the needs of ethnic minorities will be heard. Mr. Khom Peak, head of the Gati Indigenous Tenure Commission is pleased at the support that his village is getting. He hopes this recognition will help them to manage their land better, and protect it from outsiders. The next steps are to complete the legal documentation needed to finalise registration with the Ministry of Interior which should take place before the end of 2009 and to continue the process of land registration.