Sat, Nov 15, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Amendment eases rule on gaining Aboriginal status

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The legislature passed an amendment yesterday allowing children of Aborigines who have lost their Aboriginal status to apply for the status themselves.

Lawmakers passed the amendment to the Aboriginal Identification Law (原住民身分法) stipulating that children of Aborigines who had died and who had lost their Aboriginal status because they married or were adopted by non-Aborigines, or because their parents had given up their Aboriginal status before their death, could still apply to acquire Aboriginal status.

Some Aborigines have given up their Aboriginal status partly out of shame of their long marginalized culture or because of pressure to assimilate with the majority non-Aboriginal population.

In recent years, however, pride in being Aboriginal has grown, in part because some Aboriginal entertainers and athletes have gained fame and also because of increasing public awareness about the rich culture of Taiwan’s various Aboriginal tribes.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chien Tung-ming (簡東明), who authored and submitted the draft amendment bill, said the passage was tremendously significant for offspring of Aborigines as it protects their rights to reclaim their identity and heritage, even if their parents are deceased.

People with Aboriginal status enjoy some benefits such as being allowed entrance into colleges or universities with lower exam scores.

At present the Aboriginal Identification Law only stipulates that those who had lost or given up their Aboriginal status before the implementation of the act on Jan. 1, 2001, could apply through local household registration offices to have their Aboriginal status reinstated if they could prove that they were Aborigines.

The current Aboriginal Identification Law, however, does not make any allowances for people whose parents have already passed away.

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