To Return or Not to Return? A Dilemma of a Taiwanese Scholarship Recipient

Written by Kalesekes Kaciljaan (Yu-Chi Huang). In 2019, I was awarded a Taiwanese scholarship of government sponsorship for overseas study from the Ministry of Education of Taiwan to support my pursuit of doctoral study in public health at the University of Hawai’i. The reason I did so was that the financial status of neither myself nor my family could provide me with the funds for studying overseas. Unfortunately, many other Indigenous scholars from Taiwan, like myself, also went through the same path I did, owing to our people’s averagely lower financial status. I am grateful that I could have the scholarship to support my dream to study abroad and be a researcher devoted to Indigenous health. Unfortunately, however, certain scholarship regulations are outdated and greatly hinder the path of students whose research interests relate to Taiwan. As a result, we are forced to choose between our ideals and our promised benefits. Therefore, I would like to elaborate on my own experience to provide a deeper insight into the problems we recipients face when returning to Taiwan to conduct our research.

Taiwan Indigenous Students Study Overseas—A Choice Between Food and Tuition Fees

Written by Nikal Kabala’an (Margaret Yun-Pu Tu) . The Ministry of Education (MoE) is the highest authority of the Republic of China (ROC) government in implementing educational policies in Taiwan, which includes governmental-led Indigenous education. This article focuses on the “Scholarships for Indigenous People to Study Overseas” (Hereinafter “the Scholarships”). Since the Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education, multicultural, and equal opportunities are some of the current key concepts for MoE to plan the related policies, I suggest the authorities could consider more about the Scholarships following the starting point in supporting Indigenous students to study aboard.

Pondering the Pacific: One of the Moons Version II

Written by Ysanne Chen, Ilin Tsai, and Shih-Hao Huang. In “Pondering the Pacific,” we conceptualise the Pacific as an oceanic highway or a contact zone. The vast ocean connects Pacific Islands. We travel from the island of Taiwan (we are reluctant to call it main(is)land) to Pongso no Tao to recover and explore this connection. When on the island, we further learn about Tao people’s connectedness to other Pacific Islanders. Upon our return, we wrote these poems to celebrate the Pacific. Along with other Pacific Islanders writers and poets, we praise the Pacific for its abundance and ability to connect people. We also join Pacific Islanders in voicing out against nuclear contamination and all forms of environmental injustice.

Pondering the Pacific: One of the Moons Version I

Written by Shih-hao Huang, Chiahua Lin, and Robinson Pinghao Liu. Employing “the Pacific” as a contact zone, this poetry collection explores the dynamic and shifting relationship between land and sea, allowing Indigenous culture and history in the trans-Pacific context to engage in spatial and historical complexity. This journey triggers memories and connects the present with the ancestral past. When seeing the constellations in the sky, one is reminded of the stories about stars. However, we were reminded that we often forget Taiwan is also a part of the Pacific. Therefore, we authored poems to represent, substantiate and celebrate the connection: the LOST connection between the Pacific Ocean and us.

Placing Relationship over the Project: Filmmaking in Oceania

Written by Cheng-Cheng Li. My filmmaking story in Oceania started with the Re/presenting Oceania course at the University of Hawai‘i. My Kumu (professor) Tarcisius Kabutaulake, who comes from the Solomon Islands, has been teaching and researching across the region for decades. His course invites me to critically engage with and discuss how the Pacific Islands have been represented in scholarly and other mediums. He brings me onto the ‘voyage’ across the ‘storyscapes’ of scholars, artists, performers, poets, and filmmakers to understand the politics of representation. This article will first discuss my filmmaking experience in Hawai‘i with the Pacific Island community. In the second section, with an increasing number of Indigenous Taiwanese wishing to connect with Oceania, I will address the interconnection story between Taiwanese Indigenous filmmakers and the Oceanic community. The theme of ‘relationship’ as ‘Priority’ will be interwoven into the stories. 

A Possible Cultural-Political Alliance to Address Concurrent Struggles between Taiwan and Oceania: Music as a Means

Written by Chun Chia Tai. For many Indigenous peoples in Taiwan, music is a lively cultural medium that facilitates allying with other Austronesian peoples residing in Oceania. Such a musical way of fostering cultural diplomacy has currently been popular in Taiwan, especially after the release of the album Polynesia in 2014, emphasising the shared cultural genealogy of Austronesian under the collaboration of an Amis singer Chalaw Pasiwali and a Madagascar musician Kelima. In the same year, another project called the Small Island Big Song aimed to establish a network between Pacific Islands and Taiwan through music and film. Musicians in this project released their 2018 album Small Island Big Song and a sequential album named Our Island in 2021. Moreover, all these musical works focus on fusions of traditional folk music(s). Positive public perception reflects Taiwanese people’s rising demand for establishing a cross-Pacific Austronesian community between Taiwan and the Pacific Islands.

A Proposition of Indigenous Diplomacy for Taiwan-Australian Indigenous Peoples

Written by Suliljaw Lusausatj. Although Australia’s Indigenous Peoples are not Austronesian language speakers, with direct historical links to Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples, they share a broadly similar experience of colonial histories, national governance, social and economic environments, and most importantly, reliance on traditional subsistence practices and the importance of ancestral territories. Both peoples have experienced a gradual process of formal recognition. For example, the Prime Minister of Australia and the President of Taiwan issued formal apologies for the injustice done to Indigenous communities in 2008 and 2016, respectively. Despite these similarities, the Indigenous Peoples of Australia and Taiwan have not yet opened a constructive dialogue due to geographic distance, national policies and approaches to academic studies. This also applies to educational disciplines and uneven historical memories of colonialism. Therefore, perhaps it is important to think about the possibility of using new forms of diplomacy to build these relationships drawing on the traditional practices of Australian and Taiwan Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous/Islander Fanaticism Across the Pacific: A Perspective from Films

Written by Yawi Yukex; translated by Yi-Yu Lai. A type of Taiwanese is extremely fond of anything about the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan. They are captivated by all the totems and material cultures associated with Indigenous peoples, yet they frequently only believe what they already know about Indigenous cultures. Besides, they usually turn a deaf ear to Indigenous peoples’ enormous burdens and struggles. I call these individuals “Indigenous fanatics.” In the early 2000s, a series of Taiwanese films, such as “The Sage Hunter” (2005) and “Fishing Luck” (2005), portrayed Indigenous communities as shelters for those wishing to escape reality and contrasted cities with the communities. People believe that the expansion of civilisation causes problems, whereas mountains and forests represent the solution.

Representing Taiwan’s Pacific Connections

Written by Chuahua Lin. How are Trans-Pacific connections remembered and maintained in the literary works of the Tao people, one of the 16 officially recognised Indigenous tribes of Taiwan? In this article, I will read Syaman Rapongan and Yung-chuan Hsieh’s works, and I will discuss how they exemplified the ways in which Tao people endeavour to revitalise the navigation tradition of their people and maintain the connection to the ocean. As I argue in this article, Tao people, as well as other Pacific Islander writers, represent the centuries-old navigating traditions of their people and thus keep these Trans-Pacific connections alive. 

A Storm in a Coffee Cup: Indigenous Coffee Production, Typhoon Marokat and the long way home.

Written by Chang Yu-Hsin, Translated by Sam Robbins. After the typhoon, indigenous communities moved into new villages constructed in the lowlands through government and non-profit organisations’ funds. The new village for the people of the Taiwu township was roughly 17 kilometres from their original home, and the journey between the two locations took about 40 minutes by motorbike. The number of resources needed to take care of and manage the coffee farms increased as transport and oil costs went up. Especially for community elders who needed to go up the mountains to take care of the coffee farms, the time and energy now required to make the journey was no small burden.

Fighting from the Grassroots: Indigenous Health Justice is All About Life

Written by Yunaw Sili and Besu Piyas. The story began in 2006. That year, the Council of Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan issued a guideline stating that if Indigenous students need preferential treatment for college admission, they must pass the national Indigenous language certification test. As a result, many parents were worried that their children’s access to higher education would become more difficult. Because of this issue, we started our grassroots organising work in Hanxi Village, Datong Township of Yilan County. That was the first time we engaged and coordinated with the community people on local concerns. On April 19th, 2006, we demonstrated in front of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, fighting for our youth’s college rights. 

Why Do We Have Poor Health? How Colonialism Continues to Marginalise Indigenous Peoples

Written by Wasiq Silan. Despite the varying colonial histories with Indigenous peoples in other parts of the world, Indigenous people in Taiwan have one disturbing issue in common: poor health. Among other indicators (such as maternal mortality, birthweight, malnutrition, obesity and so on), Indigenous peoples in Taiwan die almost a decade sooner than the general population. Why this disparity? We are taught to believe the argument that blames Indigenous peoples for their own high-risk behavioural choice, lack of awareness, low educational attainment, and dysfunctional families; closer examination shows that we need to look beyond the individual level.

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