- Posted September 11, 2012 by
Re-interment = Massacre of Indigenous Culture
Taiwan government's recent projects in tourism has provoked the anger of an indigenous tribe in the planned tourist areas. Katratripulr, a Puyuma tribe in Taitung, protested in the opening ceremony of Austronesian Cultural Arts Festival on September 8. The tribe demanded the government to return the ownership of the land.
The local Taitung Government planned to build a tourist park on the land of Katratripulr. Since the piece of land is the tribe's graveyard, the plan of moving the cemeteries has incited an unstoppable conflict between the government and the tribal people.
The Katratripulr tribe believes that the land of ancestors cannot be used for other purposes. To the tribe, the graveyard is sacred.
The Leader of Katratripulr Palakuwan Chen Zen-Jon said, “Our tribal people believe that the government wants Katratripulr to re-bury our ancestors. It's the most unrespectable and cruel thing to indigenous cultural heritage; it's a massacre to our culture."
This piece of land is not just a graveyard, he said, "it’s part of our spirits, which live here with the ancestors. This is our homeland, an unseparable part of our soul! Our ancestors have resided in the land for hundreds of years." As he represented, the tribe has years stood strongly against the government to use the graveyard for tourist purpose. The people regard the attempt of re-interment as an invasion to "our home, our culture and our spirits.”
One of the graves belongs to Amis musician Difang Duana. He is famous for his internationally chart-topping ethnic electronica album in 1998, Circle of Life.
There are 14 legitimate indigenous groups in Taiwan. Among them, Amis and Puyuma are the two major groups that live in the eastern coast, where the growing tourist interests have led to series of governmental and private business exploitations. The two groups worry that the tourist business development will violate their ownership of the land, and finally destroy the indigenous culture, which is already endangered.
(Translation credit to Piyaw Liu)