The Sakizaya people officially filed their registration application to the Council of Indigenous Peoples yesterday, hoping to become Taiwan's 13th official indigenous tribe.
"According to how we handled this kind of application before, historians will analyze their [Sakizaya people] language, history and the locations where they are residing now, before we approve their application," said Walis Pelin (瓦歷斯貝林), council chairman.
According to the council, Sakizaya tribe chief Hsu Cheng-wan (徐成丸) led a group of 100 Sakizaya people from Hualien county early yesterday morning and arrived at the council in the afternoon to deliver their application in person.
The Sakizaya people hoped to officially register as the 13th indigenous tribe in Taiwan.
The other 12 tribes are Saisiyat, Thao, Tsou, Rukai, Paiwan, Tao, Puyuma, Bunun, Amis, Atayal, Kavalan and Truko.
According to Hsu, currently, the "Sakizaya" people are classified as a part of the Amis tribe. But, the Sakizaya language and Amis language are two totally different languages, and both have individual historical backgrounds as well.
In 1878, when Taiwan was under the rule of the Qing Dynasty, Sakizaya people were slaughtered by Qing troops, so most Sakizaya people tried to escape from the Qing soldiers' pursuit by changing their names and they have hidden themselves among the Amis tribe ever since. Up until today, most Sakizaya people can speak Amis language fluently, since the two tribes have been merged for more than a century.
After the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government recovered Taiwan from the Japanese in 1945, the Sakizaya have never been "independent," and have always been regarded as a part of the Amis since there were more Amis people than Sakizaya people.
"But, we are still so different in many ways, in terms of language, culture, ways of living, etc.," Hsu said. "Taiwan's indigenous tribes are all unique minorities in this country, but we are all the original residents of the island. Every tribe is special and so are we."
"For instance, we call clothes zigut but Amis people call them zui. We call a cow an but Amis people call it lalaba." Hsu said that Sakizaya people are grateful for the Amis' help over the past century and they will still appreciate it in the future.