Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday announced that the Truku (太魯閣) of Hualien County will become the nation's 12th indigenous tribe.
"I don't have any problem with making the Truku the nation's 12th indigenous tribe and we'll try to clear the administrative procedure by the end of the year," Yu said.
Yu made the remark yesterday afternoon while visiting the county's Hsiulin township, where most of the county's Truku people live.
Chairman of the Cabinet's Council of Aboriginal Affairs Chen Chien-nien (陳建年) later said that the council will make efforts to complete the procedure by September.
The Truku tribe and its ancestors, the Sedeq of Nantou County, have long been categorized a distinct part of the Atayal tribal system.
While there are about 30,000 Truku residing in Hualien's Hsiulin, Wanron and Choushi townships, about 7,000 Sedeq people are scattered in the 12 villages of Nantou County's Jenai Township.
Following the government's recognition of the Thao as the nation's 10th official Aboriginal tribe in 2001, the Cabinet last year approved a proposal to recognize the Kavalan people as the nation's 11th Aboriginal tribe.
A Truku of Hualien County's Hsiulin township, Lee Chih-shoon (李季順), whose Aboriginal name is Tera Yadau (鐵拉.尤道), said yesterday that he was appreciative of the premier's pledge.
"We've been campaigning for the official recognition of our tribe for over 10 years and I'm thrilled that our hard work is now paying off," he said.
Representing his own people, Tera Yadau yesterday expressed to Yu the tribe's wish to be officially recognized as the nation's 12th indigenous tribe during Yu's visit to Tera Yadau's hometown.
In mid July, Tera Yadau petitioned to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) when Chen traveled to the county to solicit opinions from leaders of local small and medium enterprise leaders and representatives of the academic circle.
The DPP's Central Standing Committee, where Chen doubles up as the chairman, also passed a resolution last week to support the tribe's campaign.
Earlier in June, Tera Yadau, who had managed to collect 15,000 signatures from his people, took the case to the Aboriginal council for further review, pending the final approval of the Cabinet.
The series of actions came after the passage of a resolution in October last year by the town halls of Hsiulin and Wanron to step up their efforts for the campaign.
A former KMT member, Tera Yudau said Yu's pledge does little to sway his decision on the upcoming Hualien election.
"I'll cast my vote to the candidate who cares about the welfare and interest of the Aboriginal people," he said.
Painting Yu's decision as "hasty and immature," Watan Halu (瓦旦.哈路) of Nantou County's Sedeq tribe said that the government should have conducted more study on the two tribes' pedigree, demography, cultural uniqueness and language before rushing to the decision.
"It does nothing but separate us from our own blood brothers, the Truku," said Watan Halu, secretary to Nantou County's Jenai township administrator. "It'll definitely cause a ripple effect among my people."