Tue, Mar 17, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Aboriginal youth sponsors sought

FOUNDATION CALL A new program aims to make it possible for exceptional young Aborigines to stay in their hometowns to help promote traditional culture

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

A local foundation yesterday called on the public to sponsor a program that would enable talented young Aborigines to remain in their tribal homelands to help development there and bridge the gap between indigenous communities and urban areas.

The sluggish economy has long been an issue for the country’s Aboriginal settlements, Jay Hung (洪智杰), chief executive of Compassion International Taiwan, said at a press conference called to solicit donations.

After years of research and interviews, he said, the Taipei-based organization has discovered that the root of the problem lay in the fact that young Aborigines are usually forced to move away from their homes in search of job opportunities.

Even though help is available to Aboriginal communities to varying degrees, Hung said, most of the assistance was provided only intermittently and often came in a form that might not suit the particular needs of the recipients.

Therefore, he said, the goal of the program was to raise enough money to help outstanding Aboriginal youths remain in their hometowns so that they could concentrate on promoting traditional wisdom and culture without having to worry about finances.

To date, eight young people have been chosen to participate in the program.

Most are members of the Atayal tribe and live in Hsinchu County’s Jianshih Township (尖石).

One of them, Yuma Atau, graduated from college recently and is working on creating a “tribal mapping model.”

Her model show the Atayal’s historical migration routes and sites of tribal interest, as well as the traditional Atayal hunting grounds.

She said she hoped the model — which she estimates would take at least five years to complete — will serve as a database that will help preserve her tribe’s history and culture.

This will allow the culture and history to be passed down to future generations.

Another recipient of the funding, Watan Taru, who is studying for a doctorate in ethnology, said he aimed to promote organic agriculture and change the common practice among Aboriginal farmers of using chemical fertilizers.

He said organic cultivation would not only achieve sustainability, but would also help end criticism that Aborigines’ farming practices in the mountains caused river pollution.

The organization encouraged people interested in making a donation to call (02) 2356-0118 for more information.

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