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The Melanaus have been thought to be amongst the original settlers of Sarawak. Originally from Mukah (the 10th Administrative Division as launched in march 2002), the Melanaus traditionally lived in tall houses. Nowadays, they have adopted a Malay lifestyle, living in kampong-type settlements.
Traditionally, Melanaus were fishermen and till today, they are reputed as some of the finest boat-builders and craftsmen.
While the Melanaus are ethnically different from the Malays, their lifestyles and practices are quite similar especially in the larger towns and cities where most Melanau have adopted the Islamic faith.
The Melanaus were believed to originally worship spirits ina practice brinking on paganism. Today many of them are Christian and Muslim, though they still celebrate traditional animist festivals such as the annual Kaul Festival.