Indigenous Storytelling in and Beyond the Classroom

Written by Yi-Yu Lai. One afternoon in 2011, Hong-sui Lim visited a Kaxabu village due to his participation in an anthropological camp. This marked his first encounter with the Kaxabu people, one of the Plain Indigenous groups inhabiting the Puli Basins in central Taiwan. Lim was astonished by the small number of Kaxabu elders who still speak their mother tongue, as it is commonly believed that Plain Indigenous peoples have been assimilated by Han Chinese culture and have lost their own languages and traditions. As a result, Lim returned to the Kaxabu communities as an undergraduate student to learn more about their endangered cultural heritage and began collaborating with the Kaxabu people. 

Beyond Maps: Indigenous 3D Mapmaking as a Path to Indigenous Resurgence

Written by Sra Manpo Ciwidian. To assert Indigenous sovereignty over our land, especially the traditional territories, the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan have employed various approaches to demonstrate our rights. Making a three-dimensional map model of Indigenous communities is the most prevalent among these approaches. Since the late 1990s, when the Kucapungane community of Rukai people produced the first Indigenous 3D map model in Taiwan, contemporary Indigenous communities in Taiwan have been developing this community-based mapping method for over three decades. 

Storytelling Behind the Overseas Taiwan Indigenous Collections: Material Cultures as a Means to Connect with International Indigenous Communities

Written by Nikal Kabalan’an (Margaret Yun-Pu Tu). Taiwan’s Indigenous artefacts were taken, bought, brought, or even got stolen and ended up miles away from the Indigenous communities where they were made by the hands of Indigenous ancestors. Some of these Taiwan Indigenous collections were already kept in a foreign museum overseas for almost a hundred years. Some of these museums are devoted to reflecting the devastating colonial history and decolonising the space by, for example, rewriting the narratives, displaying their collections in more inclusive ways, and collaborating with the cultural communities from which these cultural holdings originated. The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, Washington States, United States, where I am currently leading the review and engagement plan for the Indigenous Taiwan holdings with my colleagues, is one example of decolonising the museums.

Indigenous Youth Actions in Taiwan: Connecting Our Voices to the Global Stage 

Written by Sra (Bo-Jun Chen). Taiwan’s Indigenous peoples are becoming increasingly concerned with various global issues that are also highly pertinent to our own situation in Taiwan, such as environmental, human rights, and cultural heritage issues. In recent years, for instance, Indigenous youth in Taiwan have realised the significance of language and identity revitalisation, which may assist us in combating oppression. Moreover, we have found that the insensitivity of our lands and ignorance of our history pose a far greater threat to us than the plundering of our resources and hazards to our lives. Some Indigenous youth are thus committed to overcoming obstacles influenced by colonialism and strive to bring our voices and agendas to the global stage. Through our participation on the international stage, we aspire to be heard and have more conversations about similar difficulties. 

The Mysterious Tsou Shaman: The Guardian of Traditional Culture

Written by tanivu yasiungu and Aaron Valdis Gauss. Living high up in quiet Ali Mountain, the Tsou shamans intimately connect with the earth and the ancestral spirits. But, of course, they are also connected with the most beloved god of the Tsou tribe––Hamo. Another important role of the Tsou shamans is to preserve, perpetuate and affirm Tsou myths, thereby maintaining a connection with the ancestors. Tsou shamans believe that working with nature is the most suitable way for everyone to live. We, the Tsou people, have always believed that being simple and pure in our beliefs is the only way to maintain the closest relationships with our god Hamo.

Displaying Indigenous People’s “Heirlooms” in Museums? Lessons from the Heirloom Exhibition of Pingtung Indigenous Peoples Museum

Written by Drangadrang Kaljuvucing. “The Family Heirlooms of Slop-Dwelling Peoples” exhibition was the fruit of a competition to discover Indigenous heirlooms that still exist in Indigenous communities. It was the Pingtung Indigenous Peoples Museum (PIM) partnering with four other Indigenous museums in Pingtung County, including Wutai Pavilion, Sandimen Pavilion, Laiyi Pavilion, and Shizi Pavilion, to conduct exhibition collection, field surveys, and promotion as part of a project with the Ministry of Culture in Taiwan. The thirteen heirlooms for the exhibition, which included clothing, accessories, paintings, weaves, wood carvings, clay pots, and other living implements, originated from seven Indigenous towns in Pingtung County, except for Chunri Township. While the exhibited pieces were grouped into three categories: “Living Etiquette,” “Decorating Life,” and “Cultural Heritage,” the exhibition highlighted the diversity and uniqueness of the heirlooms revealed by their owners through interview processes.

Revitalising Indigenous Weaving Cultures Across Borders: Conversations and Collaborations between Taiwan and the Philippines

Written by Shau-lou Young. Weaving is a significant material culture in Indigenous Peoples’ society in Taiwan and the Philippines. In the past, hand-made textiles were necessities in their daily lives. However, with the introduction of fabrics into their society, only a few women continued to weave. Today, Atayal weavers in Taiwan and Ifugao weavers in the Philippines are working hard to revive their weaving culture. They brought back and conserved disappearing weaving techniques and knowledge and remade some long-lost textiles.

When You Weave, You Are Planting Seeds on the Land: An Indigenous Weaving Practitioner’s Experience

Written by Ipiq Matay. My name is Ipiq, which means “tiny” in Truku, and I am an Indigenous person from the Truku community of Taiwan. Despite my lack of height, I have a big heart. As a weaver in my community, I’d like to share ‘mhuma’, a Truku weaving skill which translates to “be planting”. This weaving technique can be seen in diamond-shaped patterns on women’s traditional clothing. Learning how to weave and create this pattern began my journey of connecting to my family history and the people of my community.

Tminun: Weaving from My Heart as an Indigenous Male

By Peydang Siyu (Chu, Hao-jie); translated by Huang, Hsing-hua. I am a member of the Truku people; the twelfth officially recognised Indigenous nation in Taiwan. We believe in our ancestors’ spirits (utux rudan) and adhere to their teachings (gaya) throughout our entire lives. Cloth weaving (tminun), similar to facial tattooing (ptasan), is a significant part of Truku culture, and many of our customs are related to it. For example, there is a strict gender division of labour in traditional Truku society, with men hunting and women weaving. Men were prohibited from learning how to weave or even touching the tools. As a male, it wasn’t until 2018 did I dare to learn it. But once I began, I never stopped. It was definitely a dream-come-true journey that I would forever remember.

Weave for an Identity: Learning Indigenous Weaving as a Han Person

Written by Nai-Wen Chang. It all started from my experience representing Taiwan at an international youth forum in 2010. A section required every participant to introduce one’s country, offering a chance to engage in cultural interactions. It was our turn to present after India, Russia, Germany, the United States, and China. Everything went smoothly until an Indian participant in a dazzling sari raised a question. The Indian representative, out of pure curiosity, asked, “What does your traditional dress look like?” A moment of embarrassed silence filled the air. My senior, the eldest of us, eventually replied, “We don’t wear traditional dress much, but we do have cheongsams.” A Chinese participant immediately countered, “Cheongsam is Chinese dress, not Taiwanese.”

Encountering Ancestors Along the Path of Weaving

Written by Langus Lavalian. Ibu is currently the youngest weaver in Haitutuan Township. When she was learning to weave with our grandmother, she had a dream in which she met a silent elderly female who requested Ibu to watch her weaving process. Traditionally, outsiders are not allowed to watch or learn the weaving process. However, this old lady appeared to be weaving purposely for Ibu and instructing her step by step. Since taisah, which refers to dream, is vital to the Bunun, Ibu believes that this is the path guided by our ancestors. 

Return to the Land and People: Contemporary Indigenous Knowledge System Project in Taiwan

Written by Yi-tze Lee. Following the Construction of the Taiwanese Indigenous Knowledge System (hereafter IKS) Project initiated by the Council of Indigenous Affairs (原住民族委員會), the establishment of the regional Indigenous Knowledge System Center is booming in 2022. The commissioned project results from a long fight for the indigenous cultural right, an example of autonomy in indigenous studies, and efforts on identity awakening. This article will explain the background of the IKS project, discuss the expectation, and reveal some critiques of the project in general. 

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