Sat, Jan 23, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Families making journey back to old Bunun village

By Wang Hsiu-ting and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Bunun Aborigines perform the smoke ritual on Wednesday in Taitung County to notify their ancestors that they are embarking on a journey back to their forefathers’ land.

Photo: Wang Hsiu-ting, Taipei Times

More than 30 people are making the journey back to the ancestral home of the Bunun Aborigines in the Central Mountain ranges this year — the 15th time since a project to rebuild the lost village of Laipunuk (內本鹿) began, hearkening perhaps to the return of the Bunun to the area.

The residents of Laipunuk were relocated to Pasaiku Village (桃源) in Taitung County’s Yanping Township (延平) during the Japanese colonial era, but many still harbor hopes of returning to their ancestral home.

With the aid of maps and the village elders’ stories, two brothers from the Husungan family embarked on a journey to find the village. When they found it, they swore that the houses of the Bunun would once again stand proudly in Laipunuk.

The project to rebuild a tribal lodge started in 2002, which the brothers and other Bunun Aborigines marked arbitrarily as the first year of Laipunuk.

The 30-odd people — including six families and their friends — participating in the 15th visit to Laipunuk gathered at the Husungan family residence in Taoyuan on Wednesday morning before embarking on the seven-day trip.

According to the guide, Katu, the completion of the tribal lodge would allow the Bunun to truly “go home” every year.

This year’s visit is different: Instead of just a party of four or five people, six families, along with their friends, are taking part.

The travelers have been divided into three groups, staggering their entrance into the mountains, Katu said.

The first group, which left on Wednesday, would scout the way, Katu said. The second group consists of the middle-aged and children, while the third group would start out last after putting everything in order.

The groups are expected to meet at the tribal lodge by Feb. 17, Katu said.

Among the travelers are Chen Kuang-hsun (陳匡洵) and Hsu Chiao-ling (許喬靈), who are taking their one-year-old daughter on the trip. Hsu said her husband had made the trip many years before and wanted to take their daughter along this year. She said Chen had been “training” the baby since she was six months old by taking her on hiking trips.

Members making the trip said they were excited about the possibility of seeing snowfall, with the weather bureau forecasting the arrival of one of the strongest cold fronts in the past decade.

The group also plans to visit an old Japanese outpost in the area and raise a flag, prepared by Husungan elders before the trip, to commemorate the 14th year of Laipunuk.

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