Saying that the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) was historically a stopover point for Ketagalan Aboriginal seafarers and the site of a traditional religious ritual that used to take place every 12 years, a descendent of the tribe, Lin Sheng-yi (林勝義), yesterday said he plans to take a 180-member delegation to revisit the island and restore the ritual.
“Ancient Ketagalans visited the Diaoyutais, it’s part of our traditional domain,” Lin told a news conference in Taipei. “The name ‘Diaoyutai’ is a Hoklo phonetic translation of the term ‘Diaoyida’a,’ which means ‘a midway point’ in the Ketagalan language.”
He said that prior to the Japanese colonization of Taiwan in 1895, every 12 years, the Ketagalans would hold religious rituals on the island to pay respect to their ancestral spirits.
“I hereby announce that I will organize a 180-member delegation — including 36 Ketagalan warriors — to sail to the islands between March and May next year to pay respect to our ancestral spirits,” he said.
The Ketagalan are an indigenous tribe that once inhabited most of the Taipei and New Taipei City (新北市) area — as well as Keelung and parts of Yilan County.
However, when the Han Chinese immigrants arrived in the region, the Ketagalans “disappeared” due to cultural assimilation and intermarriages, leaving only a handful of Ketagalan descendants aware of their cultural heritage.
Archaeological findings — now on display in the Shishanhang Museum in Bali District (八里), New Taipei City — show that the Ketagalans were actively traded with neighboring countries.
Lin said he has yet to contact the government about his plan, but he added that “it’s the government’s responsibility to protect us in our sailing to the Diaoyutais.”
“If the government is unwilling to protect us, we would welcome the help of any other countries — including China,” he said.
Pan Jee-yang (潘紀揚), chairman of the Taiwan Association for Rights Advancements for Pingpu Plains Aborigines, said he has written to the UNESCO, asking it to send a delegation to investigate archaeological sites and the ecosystem of the islands, hoping the Diaoyutais would be listed as a World Heritage site.