Joint Harvest Festival of the Indigenous Peoples

Joint Harvest Festival of the Indigenous Peoples and Publication of the Special Journal on the Movement for the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan - Mayor Cheng: Transitional Justice and advancing the rights of the Indigenous Peoples

While attending the 2016 Press Conference for the Joint Harvest Festival of the Indigenous Peoples of Taoyuan city and the Publication of the Special Journal on the Movement for the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan held at the plaza in front of the Department of Cultural Affairs on October 11th. Mayor Cheng expressed that the 2016 Joint Harvest Festival of the Indigenous Peoples of Taoyuan would be held on October 15th and 16th at the lawn plaza in front of HSR Taoyuan Station. Activities will include dancing, singing, creativity competition, fine cuisine, and crafts. All citizens are welcomed to join in the celebration. The city government shall dedicate its efforts towards social housing, education, and cultural policies to make Taoyuan the best city for the Indigenous Peoples to work, live, inherit their cultural legacy, and pursue their dreams.

Mayor Cheng said that the theme of the Harvest Festival last year in 2015 was Wawa ilisin where children performed traditional folk songs. Children studying indigenous languages were invited in the 2016 Festival to sing folk songs and perform dramas in native languages to display their successes in learning their mother tongues. Dance groups from National Dong Hwa University were also invited to perform traditional folk dances for festivities such as Hla'alua and Kanakanavu to help more peoples learn about the cultures of the Indigenous Peoples.

Mayor Cheng pointed out that nearly 70,000 people of indigenous descent reside in Taoyuan, including members from all the 16 tribes of Taoyuan. Taoyuan City Government is a great supporter of the indigenous peoples. The budget for the Department of Indigenous Affairs will be exceeding NT$ 700 million in 2017, and organized the 2016 Explore the Sun �Taoyuan International Indigenous Music Festival while actively initiating programs and policies for social housing, education, and cultural policies. The city government also stipulated the Self-Governance Guidelines for the Indigenous Peoples of Taoyuan City and allocated an NT$ 30 million budget for establishing the Indigenous Peoples Development Foundation, demonstrating the Taoyuan City's commitment to the betterment of its Indigenous Peoples and making Taoyuan into the showcase of the aboriginal peoples.

Mayor Cheng said that the celebration coincided with the publication of the Once, Now, and Us Special Issue on the Movement for the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan. 1,000 copies have been printed and distributed to various schools and indigenous peoples' groups as educational material. The Special Issue includes many stories on the movement for the rights of the indigenous peoples, providing readers with a correct understanding of the issues related to the indigenous peoples and their meaning to society and inspiring them with these historical events. All citizens will also be reminded of the blood and tears encountered by the indigenous peoples as they fought for their rights as well as the need to achieve Transitional Justice for Taiwan's natives.

Mayor Cheng raised the example of Uyongu Yatauyungana (Kao I-Sheng) who was a representative of the Tsou people, a former village chief of Alishan, a renowned composer of indigenous music and composed the lyrics and music for Haru no Sahohime, and an advocate for autonomy for the aboriginal peoples. Uyongu Yatauyungana was arrested in 1952, accused of rebellion and treason by the KMT government, and executed by a firing squad in 1954. To commemorate this history, the Special Issue adopted the Haru no Sahohime as its theme music to symbolize the spirits of every indigenous people and the efforts needed to protect them from deliberate historical distortion or obscurity.

Mayor Cheng mentioned that the movement for the rights of indigenous peoples went silent for 30 years after the 1950s. During the 1980s, the second wave movement for the rights of the indigenous peoples was started. This included the founding of the Gaoshanqing (High Mountain Youth) magazine in 1983 that demanded restoration of indigenous names, lands, and autonomy. Today, the rights of the indigenous peoples have been included as part of the Constitution, and indigenous peoples' channels were formally aired in 2005. In August 1st 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen apologized to citizens who had fought and demanded for the rights of the indigenous peoples on behalf of all past leaders, an act that showed a sincere reflection of history. These events symbolize different milestones and point to the gradual success for the implementation of Transitional Justice, making it especially meaningful for furthering the rights of the Indigenous Peoples while serving as a valuable lesson for civics education.

During the press conference, Mayor Cheng lit the torches held by representatives of every tribe to symbolize the initiation of the Harvest Festival. High Chieftain Yeh Shun-Ming of Taoyuan City led the prayers for blessing, an act that symbolized the cultural traditions for thanksgiving and gratefulness of the indigenous peoples. Attendants to the event included Taoyuan City Councilors Yang Chin-Fu, Wu Chun-Fang, and Lin Chih-Chiang, Taoyuan City Government Director-general Lin Jih-lung (Temu Nokan) of the Department of Indigenous Affairs, Director-General Chang Tun-Han of the Department of Public Information, Pingzhen District Chief He Ming-Kuang, Bade District Chief Chen Yu-Ming, Guanyin District Chief Hung Ching-Yuan, High Chieftain Yeh Shun-Ming of Taoyuan City, Vice Chieftain Lin Chien-Chang, High Chieftain Lin Chin-Ming of Yangmei District, High Chieftain Chiang Chin-Shui of Zhongli District, and High Chieftain Chen Tien-Lai of Bade District.

Source: Taoyuan City