The Taiwan Aboriginal Rights Webpage

The Aboriginal Peoples of Taiwan are the First Nations of Taiwan. They number approximately 500,000 or about 2.2% of Taiwan's 23 million people. (A proportion similar to that of Australia or Canada) Taiwan's First Nations were independent before Taiwan was invaded by outsiders. Contrary to the propaganda of the People's Republic of China (PRC) or the Republic of China (ROC) Taiwan is only a recent addition to the Chinese Empire, with colonization beginning in 1624. Taiwan First Nations armed resistance to outside invaders only ended in the 1930s following the Japanese Imperial army's suppression of the Wushe Uprising by the Sediq First Nation which included the use of poison gas attacks.

Today Taiwan's Aboriginal Peoples suffer under the same sorts of conditions of internal colonism that has been inflicted on Aboriginal peoples in countries such as Australia, Canada, the USA, New Zealand, and elsewhere.

This page is a compilation of articles and news from various sources regarding Taiwan's Aboriginal Peoples. We welcome any comments you might have:

Table of Contents:
1)Background Information:
2)Yami Nation and Nuclear Waste:
3) Taroko Nation versus Asia Cement
4) 1999 International Conference Documents:
5) Racial Discrimination
6) Biopiracy
7) Cultural Appropriation
8) Treaties Links
9) Taiwan Links:
10) International Links
11) Cultural Exploitation Links:
12) Submitting articles:

Background information:

Taiwan's Languages Ethnologue's summary of Taiwan's languages and their status.
It outlines the rapid extinction of Taiwan's once great cultural diversity.

 Report to UN 1993 : This was given to the UN year of Indigenous people in 1993. It is a damming report outlining the suffering of Taiwan's First Nations at the hands of outsiders.

No Miracles Here: An introduction to Taiwan Aboriginal politics
This paper provides an overview of Taiwan's Aboriginal politics and history.

Wushe Uprising's 70th Anniversary The Wushe Uprising of 1930 marked the last large scale Taiwan First Nation military resistance to Japanese colonialism. This article from the Taipei Times discusses the changes that have occurred since and the problems faced by Taiwan's First Nations today.

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Yami Nation and Nuclear Waste:

"Where to Go" 1996 by Siijeilogilan of the Tao First Nation.

Yami People Protest Nuclear Waste Dump : This article from 1995 outlines the history of waste on Lanyu Island. It is a sad example of environmental racism conveniently ignored when the "Taiwan Miracle" is discussed.

TAIWAN POWER COMPANY MISREPRESENTS NUCLEAR WASTE This 1997 report by Greenpeace looks at the misrepresentation of nuclear waste stored on Lanyu Island and poor storage conditions at the Lanyu waste facilities.

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Taroko Nation
 Death Threats
 "There will definitely be bloodshed next time. We'll kill you one by one..." During an attempt on March 12, 2001by members of the Taroko First Nation to recover lands illegally occupied by the Asia Cement Company death threat were made by a company official. The Asia Cement company continues to be in violation of an August 2000 court decision.

Report to the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations : A report by the Taroko People on the destructive effects of cement production on their lands. Asia Cement still fraudulently occupies Taroko Nation lands. It is owned by the Far Eastern Group which is controlled by the Douglas Hsu the 188th richest man in the World with assets of over US$2.6 billion according to Forbes magazine. So if you are in Taiwan BOYCOTT Far Eastern Department Stores and Far Eastern Airlines!

Hualien Aborigines Fight to Regain Lands This article is another about the Taroko Nations struggle with Asia Cement. It is from the Presbyterian Church on Taiwan's January 1999 Occasional Bulletin.

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1999 International Conference documents:
These are from the International Conference on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples June 18-20, 1999 National Taiwan University, Taipei, TAIWAN. This conference had over 220 participants from various Indigenous peoples from around the world.
Resolutions These include supporting the right of Taiwan Aboriginal peoples to participate in UN and in other international organizations.
Declarations These concern International Law, Land and Resource Right, and Cultural Rights.

Intellectual Property Rights of the Aboriginal Peoples of Taiwan
This article by Yvonne Lin Mei-jung deals with various legal issues including biopiracy, and music including the Kuo's case against Enigma.

Building an Aboriginal society with the media at its centre: The current state of play and outlook for the Aboriginal print media.   Lin Ming-teh (Kapi Kalidoay)This article looks at the participation of Taiwan's Aboriginal peoples in Taiwan's modern mass media.

Myth of the Images of Aborigines
Watan discusses the history of distorted representations of Taiwan's First Nations

Legal Status of Taiwan's Aboriginal PeoplesThis paper by Cheng Feng Shih considers the varied and often convoluted and contradictory legal and legislative measures affecting Taiwan 's Aboriginal peoples.

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Racial Discrimination:
Park Official compares Aborigines to Mouse Crap Here is a blatant example of the sorts of discriminatory attitudes faced by Taiwan's Aboriginal people in their struggles for land rights.

The Pingquanhui: The face of Taiwan racism:
This 1999 article by Martin Williams describes the anti-Aboriginal activities within the Taiwan government by a racist organization known as the Pingquanhui or "the Alliance of Taiwan Associations for the Promotion of Rights of Plains People Living in Mountain Districts"

The Impacts of the September 21st Earthquake on Indigenous Peoplesí Land Rights and the Reconstruction
of Place Identity in Taiwan

This 2002 paper by Chen Yi-fong from the Journal of Geographical Science is an analysis of the Pingquanhui as well as its actions in the aftermath of the 1999 earthquake

Aborigines Protest Discrimination in Earthquake aftermath Taiwan's September 21, 1999 earthquake was centered in Nantou County an area with a large population of Taiwan Aborigines. They have been some of the worst affected and have received the least attention in government relief efforts.

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Biopiracy and Biocolonialism

My Blood Your Patent Taiwan Indigenous Television Report December 4 2009.

One of Taiwan's most prominent researchers on Aboriginal health, Ko Ying-chin of Kaohsiung Medical University has filed for two US patent applications over the last years based on research involving Atayal Aborigines. The second of these applications published in 2009 involves 1522 Atayal Aborigines. This report shows how Dr. Ko and his colleagues committed various ethics violations including not informing the Atayal Aborigines of the US patent applications.

Alcoholism Related Genetics Research Involving Taiwan Aborigines As a New Terrain of Settler Colonialism
This paper by Mark Munsterhjelm presented at the 2005 Canadian Anthropology and Sociology Association conference deals with how alcoholism related genetics research functions as a new form of governance of Taiwan's Aboriginal Peoples.

Austronesian Heroes or Genetically Alcoholic? This paper contrasts journal article representations of Taiwan Aborigines in Austronesian migrations research on prehistoric settlement of the Pacific with genetics research on alcoholism. and then considers how these differing constructions of Taiwan Aboriginal peoples genes are utilized in Taiwanese nationalist discourses versus health discourses.

Biopiracy against Taiwan's Aboriginal Peoples Taiwan's Aboriginal Peoples are now becoming a target of biopiracy. Capitalism's latest tools for exploitation of indigenous peoples are the high tech tools of biotechnology. Taiwan's Aboriginal Peoples are a 'prime genetic resource' for these pirates in lab coats.

Genes, ethics and Aborigines: This 2000 article describes about the ethical problems of gene research on Taiwan's Aboriginal peoples.

"Aborigines for Sale, $50, Aborigines for Sale Get yours from $50":
Now "qualified" scientific researchers can buy Atayal and Ami Aboriginal lyphoblasts and DNA for as little as US$50 from Coreil Cell Repository along with other Indigenous groups from around the world. These genetic materials appear to have been utilised in a number of studies I found on MedLine. This page also has some links to various sites affiliated with (Captain) Kidd Labs at Yale University. (English) 

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Cultural Protection and Appropriation:

Exploitative mythologies used to destroy Aborigines' sense of self ; Isak Afo, an Ami Aboriginal activist, critically discusses the manner in which negative stereotypes of Aborigines and alcohol are projected in the mass media.

CokeCola voucher

"Aborigines go better with Coke". Above is an example of the sort of cultural exploitation that masquerades as "economic development" in Taiwan. The government sponsored Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village was "built to preserve Taiwan's Aboriginal cultures and develop the tourism industry" according to their English guide book. However the above coupon shows how they are mass marketed in Taiwan. Aboriginal cultures are put on display at this amusement park. Note the Mayan style pyramid in the background along with the roller coaster.

Aborigines Saved Yet Again: Settler Nationalism and Hero Narratives in a 2001 Exhibition of Taiwan Aboriginal Artefacts
This Master's thesis by Mark Munsterhjelm deals with how heroes-rescue-Aborigines organizational narratives structured a 2001 exhibition of Taiwan Aboriginal artefacts thereby reproducing the hierarchies of settler/Aboriginal power relations. Involved institutions included the Royal Ontario Museum, Presbyterian Church, Taiwanese and Canadian government agencies sought to utilize these artefacts to glorify the Presbyterian missionary to Taiwan, George Leslie Mackay on the centennial of his death. This exhibition advanced a number of involved institutions' agendas including Taiwan informal diplomacy, Canada nation branding, and corporate public relations.

"Happy Aborigines Dance For Benign Patriarchs: Ideologies Implicit in Recent Institutional Constructions of Taiwan Aborigines" Utilising the conception of Taiwan as a "subimperial" power this paper considers how Aborigines have been represented by the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines. It then considers ideologies implicit in renderings of Aborigines created by the institutional interaction of Canadian and Taiwanese government agencies, corporations, and the Presbyterian Church during the 2001 festivities marking the 100th anniversary of the death of Canadian Presbyterian Missionary George Leslie Mackay. Originally presented at a May 2002 Canadian Anthropology Society conference. (in PDF format requires Adobe Acrobat reader)

Canada Brand Aborigines: Here are some of the documents I received from an information request filed with the Canadian government's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade for information on activities concerning Taiwan Aborigines by Canadian Trade office in Taipei for 1997-2002. Documents cover a number of topics including the Mackay 2001 exhibition of Taiwan Aboriginal artifacts, the 1998 memorandum of understanding on Taiwan-Canada Aboriginal exchanges, and Canadian government public relations planning policies. They give some first-hand idea of the manner in which institutional interaction shapes representations of Aboriginal peoples function within Taiwan-Canada informal diplomatic relations, Canadian nation branding related public relations in Taiwan, and gaining corporate sponsorship through listing of business benefits for sponsors.

Vice President Lu gives Mitsubishi Lancer prize Here is a two minute clip RealMedia clip from an April 2001 China Television (CTV) broadcast of Taiwan's Vice-President Lu awarding a giant car key for a Mitsubishi Lancer Sedan to the winner of the 2001 China Motor Company Aboriginal Song and Dance competition. This is unfortunately typical of most Taiwanese TV coverage of Aboriginal people with its repetition of singing and dancing stereotypes. (Anyone interested can e-mail me and I'll send you a better quality file of 5 to 10 meg)

IPR draft law for Aborigines under attack
This article deals with the controversy over proposed Intellectual property rights legislation for Aboriginal cultures in Taiwan

Drinking, Singing, and Dancing But No Nukes Please- Propaganda, Colonisation, and Taiwan's First Nations This paper by Mark Munsterhjelm looks at the connections between mass media and historical portrayals of Taiwan's First Nations and the colonisation of Taiwan. It contains some 30 photos so it may take a bit of time to load.

News Release about Difang's case against EnigmaThis case is a famous example of the exploitation of Taiwan's First Nations Culture for profit. Enigma's 'canned mysticism' has sold millions of CD's aided by their theft of the Ami Nations' culture. This case was recently settled out of court in July 1999

Tourism on the East Coast of Taiwan
Traveling along the east coast of Taiwan Linda Arrigo's observations about tourism and Taiwan's Aboriginal peoples.

Report on Santsan Village   This article discusses ecologically destructive 'development' by mining company on illegally occupied Taroko lands. Article by Linda Arrigo.

The Quest for Difference vs the Wish to Assimilate: Taiwan's Aborigines and their Struggle for Cultural Survival in Times of Multiculturalism This is a paper by Michael Rudolph.

The Pan-Ethnic Movement of Taiwanese Aborigines and the Role of Elites in the Process of Ethnicity Formation This is a paper by Michael Rudolph.

The Emergence of the Concept of `Ethnic Group` in Taiwan and the Role of Taiwan`s Austronesians in the Construction of Taiwanese This paper by Michael Rudolph considers the ways in which Taiwan's Aborigines have been utilised by various concerns in Taiwan.

Above is an example of how the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines ("The Mitsubishi Museum") uses Taiwan Aboriginal Cultures for advertising Mitsubishi motor vehicles. This came from the backcover of a 1998 Taiwanese magazine and was also featured on the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit trains during 1998/9.

Killing Paiwan- the Dark Truth about Mitsubishi, CMC, and the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines
This is the English version of an article that appeared in the Chinese language Lih Bau newspaper in Taiwan in December 1999. It discusses Mitsubishi's historical role in the 1874 military expeditions against the Paiwan First Nation and its current use of Taiwan Aboriginal cultures for commercial purposes by Mitsubishi affiliates, the Shung Ye Trading Company and the China Motor Company.
Related Links:
This China Motor Company Freeca SUV TV ad uses Aboriginal dancing. This ad was broadcast during 1997 on Taiwanese TV. (Realplayer required)
The Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines Here is their Chinese webpage featuring merchandise and Collection photos.
The Government's Sinorama magazine  on how good the Shung Ye Museum is, really.

Maya Coffee Research Paper This paper looks at the tragic history and use of propaganda at various stages in the production of coffee and its distorting role as this relates to the Maya Peoples of Guatemala. It makes a case study of Taiwan's Uni-President Corporation's "Maya Coffee" line of canned coffee beverages which feature the "environmental musician" Matthew Lien of the Yukon. It looks at the way renderings of Aboriginal peoples are constructed in Taiwan's media.
This TV ad starring Matthew Lien of the Yukon ran during 2001 in Taiwan. It is in English:

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Taiwan Links

Taipei Times This English language frequently carries news regarding Taiwan's Aboriginal peoples. Enter "Aborigines", "Aboriginal" , or "Aborigine" in their search engine to reference a large number of items. Contains articles from fall of 1999 to date.

Lih Pao NewspaperThis is a well done non-profit Chinese language daily newspaper published in Taiwan.

Taiwan Aboriginal News Magazineis a weekly news program produced by Taiwan Public Television Service in Chinese. Has a 37 Kbps and a high speed 300 Kbps versions of it's weekly TV news magazine using Windows Media Player. Use Microsoft Explorer to access news broadcast which is changed weekly (Netscape doesn't seem to work). Also has an large archive of Chinese language news articles dating back to 1999. .

Formosa Texts and Maps Reed College's History Department has assembled a very useful set of historical maps and documents on Taiwan from late 1800s and early 1900s (In English)

The Fourth World This is a mostly Chinese language webpage with many articles and links to various resources on Aboriginal peoples in Taiwan and elsewhere as well.

Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan This is the Cabinet level department that deals with Aboriginal issues in Taiwan. (English and Chinese)

Atayal: A Non-Profit Organization. Provides background information on Taiwan First Nations.

Cultural Survival Quarterly Special Segment, Volume 26:2, Summer 2002 articles

The First Nations of Taiwan: A Special Report on Taiwan's indigenous peoples

This article provides a brief historical background and overview of Aboriginal issues in present day Taiwan.

The Underside of a Miracle: Industrialization, Land, and Taiwan's Indigenous Peoples This article the University of Ottawa's Scott Simon deals with use of Aboriginal lands under colonisation and describes the ongoing Asia Cement/Taroko Aboriginal Land Dispute.

Presbyterians and the Aboriginal Revitalization Movement in Taiwan By Michael Stainton. This article considers the role of the Presbyterian Church both historically and in present day Aboriginal

A Minority within a Minority: Cultural Survival on Taiwan's Orchid Island By Linda Gail Arrigo, with Si Jilgilan (Huan Ching-Wen) and Si Maraos (Chung Chi-Fu.) This article deals with the issues of cultural loss and Taiwan government nuclear waste poisoning the homeland of the Tao Aboriginal people of Lanyu Island off Taiwan's southeast coast.

In the Name of Progress By Linda Gail Arrigo. This article deals with the adverse effects on Aboriginal territories by marble mining in Eastern Taiwan.

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International Links

NativeWeb is an excellent resource for Aboriginal issues from all over the World.

Settlers in Support of Indigenous Sovereignty : This is an very useful website with information from many different Aboriginal groups about their struggles.

The Duke University journal entitled "Positions: East Asia Cultures critique" in the issue number 8.1, Spring 2000 has a number of excellent articles on Taiwan as a subimperial power in its relations to Taiwan's Aboriginal peoples. (I am not sure whether this issue is publically available or not, it may require an institutional subscription)

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Cultural Exploitation Links: (At least that's what I think these are)

The Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village is    an ISO9002 approved Aboriginal themed amusement park. Rollercoasters and Aborigines wow! (English and Chinese)

The Grand Formosa Taroko Hotel is located on occupied Taroko lands. Enjoy a stay here on lands expropriated from the Taroko First Nation (English)

Taiwan Aboriginal Cultural Park is an ahistorical static bit of "Otherness" (In English and Chinese)

Mala Bay is a new "Aboriginal themed" Amusement Park. Built by Taiwanese and foreign corporate interests is part of the Taiwan government's national development plans.
(Chinese with lots of graphics, takes a bit of time to load requires Flash Player)

Academia Sinica's "Tribes of Taiwan An article from Taiwan's top research institute with stereotyped ahistorical renderings (English).

"PhDs Playing Aborigine"- Academic and Business leaders frolick on Taroko Aboriginal lands. The 1999 University of California Berkeley (UCB) sponsored Fourth Asian Leadership Conference, was held on unceded Taroko First Nation lands at the Taroko Grand Formosa Hotel in Taroko National Park. It is a vivid example of how Taiwan Aborigines are constructed as entertaining caracatures by dominant institutions. This link is to a series of pictures of the various Taiwanese and Western attendees being entertained by Taiwan First Nations and playing dressup in Aboriginal traditional ceremonial clothing. These photos was posted as a "memory" at a UCB University Relations webpage so I reposted it under Fair Use guidelines so you can judge for yourself. It is important to note UCB is a major centre for Asian Studies and has received funding from the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines.

Aboriginal Planet Here is the Taiwan section of the "Aboriginal Planet" (their name not mine) webpage for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Learn first hand about the diplomatic utility of Aboriginal peoples in back door relations between Canada and Taiwan.

Memorandum of Understanding on the cooperation of aboriginal affairs between the Council of Aboriginal Affairs Executive Yuan in Taipei And The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei
The title pretty much explains it. This was signed in 1998 and is the defacto diplomatic agreement governing Taiwan-Canada exchanges. A bit boring but worth the read to get an idea what these exchanges are really about which is backdoor international relations for Taiwan.

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Submitting Articles or Links:
I am interested in building up the historical and critical content of this webpage so if you have any articles concerning Taiwan Aboriginal peoples please send them along and I will post them. As well,
if you are associated with any Taiwan Aboriginal organisations and would like to use this site for posting articles or videos (I have plenty of bandwidth left) please send me an e-mail.

Send any articles, relevant links, comments or suggestions to Mark Munsterhjelm at:

Last updated: January 10 2010 (Links updated, some files added)

Note: This page was started in 1998 and is maintained by Mark Munsterhjelm who is responsible for the contents.

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