Thu, Jan 31, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Book traces rise of the Aboriginal rights movement

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The publication of a book tracing the Aboriginal rights movement from the 1980s is a breakthrough, as Aborigines are often overlooked in studies of Taiwanese history, Academia Historica President Chang Yen-hsien (張炎憲) said yesterday.

Chang made the remarks during a press conference in Taipei to launch a two-volume book on Aboriginal history published by the Academia Historica and the Council of Indigenous Peoples.

Entitled A Collection of Historical Documents in Taiwan's Aboriginal Movement (台灣原住民族運動史料彙編), the two volumes add up to more than 1,100 pages and start with the founding of the High Mountain Youth (高山青) magazine in 1983 by a group of Aboriginal college student rights activists.

Through pictures, original manuscripts, newspaper clippings, maps and personal accounts from Aboriginal movement leaders, the book guides readers through major events in the Aboriginal movement from 1983 through 2002, when President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) confirmed a "new partnership agreement," paving the way for future Aboriginal autonomy.

"With this book we have challenged the Han-centric view that Taiwanese history is only 400-years old," Chang told the news conference.

"Aborigines lived in Taiwan before the Han people migrated from China; and long before the Aborigines, there were people who lived on this land but left only some traces and remains that we have discovered through archeological findings," he said.

Chang said that the Aboriginal rights movement was often overlooked in the study of political and social movements in the 1980s, adding that "we really need to pay more attention to it."

A member of the audience surnamed Lo (), however, said the book still did not present a full account of the history of the Aboriginal movement.

Lo said he spent 24 years as a political prisoner during five decades of authoritarian rule under Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) authoritarian rule.

"I had many cellmates who were Aborigines and their stories should have been recorded as well," Lo said.

Chang agreed, but said it would have taken too much time to include everything, but he promised to try and record earlier history in future publications.

Lyiking Yuma, a former activist, urged the public to continue making history.

"This publication is by no means the end of our struggle -- we must continue to write our history," she said.

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