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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Written by Kalesekes Kaciljaan (Yu-Chi, Huang) and Ta-Chun Hua.
We often see that Indigenous-focused research is excluded from major research programs with the capacity to influence policymaking, ignoring the impact of Indigenous cultural distinctiveness on health disparities. For example, in the annual statistics of health promotion in Taiwan, the authors didn’t separate most disease-related statistics, such as prevalence, incidence, and age distribution of individual diseases, of Indigenous Peoples from the general population. It has been tough to present the extent of the health differences between Indigenous People and the rest of the Taiwanese population in the absence of these essential figures. Lack of information also posed many difficulties for community health practitioners attempting to establish a health promotion plan for undersized Indigenous communities. This phenomenon occurs in Taiwan and many other countries with multiple ethnic minorities.
Written by Szu-yu Lai, translated by Sam Robbins. When people in Taiwan think of indigenous communities, they think of millet, traditional clothing, and other stereotypical markers. However, from the story of Atayal tea farmers in Li Mountain, we can see that such static imaginings don’t bind indigenous peoples. Admitting to Taiwan’s rapidly changing culture and economy, cultivating tea became a way for Atayal people to reflect on their own culture and relationship with mainstream society. Although tea is not a part of the Atayal people’s traditional culture, it has slowly become a crucial part of how Atayal tribes market themselves through legal and economic changes.
Written by Hsiao-Chun Hung. Professor Robert (Bob) Blust was a world-renowned linguist whose contributions will be sorely missed by his many colleagues. Bob’s ideas sometimes provoked controversy. Small groups sometimes seek fleeting moments of fame in academia by targeting well-known scholars, often without sufficient or relevant supporting evidence. This approach attracts attention as a “newsworthy” difference of opinion, at least temporarily, until it can be dispelled. Facing such challenges, Bob consistently retained stoic confidence in his scientific methodology, regardless of the enthusiasm of his critics.
Written by Chiao-Wen Chiang. While the theory of Taiwan being the homeland of Austronesian languages is familiar to many people in Taiwan, few are familiar with the name Robert Andrew Blust (1941-2022), the world’s leading linguist who brought out this idea from a linguistic perspective in the early 1980s.
Written by Victoria Chen. Robert A. Blust, the leading scholar in Austronesian linguistics, passed away on January 5, 2022, at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. This loss has saddened linguists, archaeologists and anthropologists worldwide, along with researchers on Taiwan Studies who have benefited from his work over the past five decades.
Written by Fanny Caron. Lin and Ismahasan’s academic disciplines and the career path they have chosen to highlight a change in Taiwan Indigenous studies on an international level. These choices enable them to play a part in shifting the discourse on Indigenous Peoples from “objects” of study to active “subjects” of their own (counter-) narrative, supporting their affirmation of Indigeneity and tribal sovereignty.
Written by Aaron Chen. In May 2021, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court considered a high-profile case concerning indigenous hunting rights. First opened in 2013, the Bunun man, Tama Talum, had been convicted for violating the Wildlife Conservation Act, which limited indigenous poaching to solely ceremonial activities. He was also prosecuted under the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act, legislation that only allowed indigenous peoples to hunt using homemade weapons, whilst Tama Talum did otherwise.