Early explorers – Taiwan’s Indigenous people

Did you know that Taiwan is made up of approximately 2.5% Indigenous people who were estimated to have inhabited the land approximately 8000 years ago (the Han Chinese migrated to Taiwan in the 17th Century)? I didn’t, until recently.  I was fascinated to discover it, so I thought that I’d share it with you. Here is what I’ve learnt:

  • Taiwan’s Indigenous population is made up of 16 recognised tribes.
  • The Indigenous people are also known as Austronesian people.
  • Austronesian people migrated, from Taiwan, and can be found on land in the Pacific Ocean, Micronesia, Madagascar and South East Asia. The Majority ethnic group of East Timor are seen to be closely linked to Taiwanese Austronesians (please note that Australian Indigenous people are believed to be entirely distinct from the Austronesian race).
  • c.5000 – 2500 BC migration occurred across South East Asia including the Philippines and Indonesia.
  • c.1200 – 500 BC migration continued but further East, to Micronesia.
  • c.200 AD Austronesians reached Madagascar.
  • Trade with Indian and China took place from the 1st Century, which brought with it foreigners (mixed races) and religion, initially through Buddhism and Hinduism, and later through Islam (Indonesia) and Christianity (Philippines).
  • The language base for all of these nations today can be taken back to Austronesian routes, which provides a strong indication of the movement of people across the region.
  • The sea provided the means of transport and opportunity for exploration.

Today,  Taiwan starts the 117 days of the Austronesian Cultural Festival, a celebration of Indigenous culture, traditions and language.

The celebrations this year are particularly noteworthy because President Tsai made a formal apology on Tuesday to the Indigineous people of Taiwan, stating  “There’s a book called “The Complete History of Taiwan,” and it’s typical of Han Chinese historiography in that it recorded Taiwan’s history from the perspective of the more powerful groups…. Over the past 400 years, every regime in Taiwan seriously infringed on the existing rights of indigenous peoples through the use of military force and the theft of land…. Formerly, the government stored nuclear waste materials on Orchid Island without the knowledge of members of the Tao tribe who lived on the island. … For this, I offer my apology…”

President Tsai acknowledged the historical and transitional injustice for indigenous peoples and the importance of working with representatives of each of the 16 officially recognised tribes to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. For those interested, this you tube news clip shows her speak.

Oh, and, did you know that Taiwan has more than 100 mountains that are more than 3000m tall? … sounds too tempting for belief!


Image credit: Bunun Tribe, Pinterest by HUMAN = LIFE-2…


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