Tue, Jul 26, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Hsieh says he is part Aboriginal; declares new day

TRIBAL?Noting that he was part Aboriginal, the premier guessed that he was part Bunun because he gets misty-eyed when he hears the tribe's music

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Frank Hsieh, right, yesterday for the first time revealed his ethnic origin, saying that his great-grandmother was an Aborigine during a press conference marking Aug. 1 Indigenous People's Re-designation Day.

PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

At a press conference yesterday in Taipei to announce that Aug. 1 will be henceforth be "Indigenous People's Re-designation Day," Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said he believes his great-grandmother was an Aboriginal.

"I have no idea which tribe my great-grandmother belonged to," the premier said. "However, I think she must have been Bunun because whenever I hear Bunun music, I become excited and emotional."

The Cabinet has set aside the special day to accentuate its determination to preserve Aboriginal cultures and ways of life and to boost their well-being.

Many members of Taiwan's indigenous tribes were called "mountain people," which carried a derogatory connotation. They were not re-designated as "indigenous peoples" to appropriately reflect their ethnic origins until the 1990s.

Hsieh showed up at the press conference in the Tsou Tribe's traditional outfit. In the meantime, a Tsou tribal chieftain decorated the premier with a headband and a special knife. The Tsou chieftain also gave Hsieh a Tsou tribal name.

Many other Cabinet members attending the news conference yesterday were also given a Tsou tribal name.

Indigenous people were forced to take Mandarin names and were deprived of other rights during the martial law era of Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) rule. Hsieh said that the government has been working hard to correct past wrongs and make sure they are never repeated.

The premier promised that the Cabinet will continue to improve welfare services for Aborigines in line with the principle of "giving priority to caring for the underprivileged."

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