Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Plains Aborigines seeking renewed indigenous status

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Name and status restoration activists of the Pingpu (平埔) — also known as plains Aborigines — yesterday visited the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) and urged it to give them a hand in their campaign.

The council, however, did not give a positive response.

“We, members of the Pingpu tribes, would like to invite [CIP] Minister Chang Jen-hsiang [章仁香] to attend the public hearing on restoration of Pingpu tribal names and Aboriginal status,” Siraya Culture Association chairwoman Wan Shu-chuan (萬淑娟) said as she handed the invitation to CIP Planning Department Director Wang Chiu-i (汪秋一), who accepted it on Chang’s behalf.

The Siraya are a Pingpu tribe that live in parts of Tainan and Chiayi counties.

Pingpu refers to assimilated Aborigine tribes that dwell on the plans, who once lived throughout the flat areas of the country from Keelung all the way to Pingtung before Han migrants from China and colonial powers arrived in Taiwan.

It’s not easy to find Pingpu today, since most have been culturally assimilated into Han society through intermarriage or were forced to change their identities.

Most Pingpu tribes also lost their status as Aborigines in official records once the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime took over Taiwan after World War II.

Despite their tragic past, some Pingpu still remember their identity and have been struggling for restoration of their tribal names and Aboriginal status for about 20 years.

“We would like the CIP to give us a hand in our campaign,” Wan told Wang.

Wang’s response disappointed Wan and other activists.

Wang promised that the CIP would send someone to today’s public hearing, but added that it wasn’t likely that the CIP could do anything to help restore Aboriginal status to the Pingpu unless changes were made to the Aboriginal Identity Act (原住民身份法). “For that, we fully respect legislative power,” he said.

The law states that only people whose parents are registered in the household registration records as Aborigine may be conferred Aboriginal status.

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