The Forestry Bureau’s Hsinchu Forest District Office and Saisiyat Aborigines on Wednesday signed a partnership agreement to jointly conserve natural resources and promote Aboriginal culture.
According to the agreement, the district office and the Saisiyat are to develop a mechanism for managing and protecting forestry resources and the ecosystem in the Saisiyat’s traditional territories.
The office promised to uphold the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法) and work with the Saisiyat to promote the study, preservation and development of Aboriginal culture.
Prior to the signing of the agreement, Saisiyat leaders performed a traditional ritual, offering pork skewers and rice wine in bamboo cups to inform their ancestors of the event and pray for good luck.
The agreement, written in Chinese and Saisiyat, was signed by Hsinchu Forest District Office head Lin Hao-chen (林澔貞), Saisiyat National Congress Speaker of the House of Commons and representative of the southern tribes Chu Jen-kui (朱仁貴) and National Congress convener and representative of the northern tribes Chao Shan-lin (趙山琳).
It was the second partnership the Saisiyat have signed with the government.
In 2006, the Saisiyat community in Hsinchu County’s Wufong Township (五峰) signed an agreement with the Sheipa National Park Administration Office, in the first partnership between an Aboriginal community and the government.
“The Saisiyat’s traditional territories run from Hsinchu County’s Wufong Township to Miaoli County’s Nanjhuang Township (南庄) — all of which overlaps with our jurisdiction,” Lin said.
Work to promote collaboration with the Saisiyat began in August last year, when the district office held its first Saisiyat culture workshop for its staff and invited Saisiyat Aborigines to share their knowledge, she said.
The partnership agreement is only the beginning, she said, adding that the next step is developing mechanisms that would enable both sides to collaborate on forestry management and other issues.
“From now on, we are no longer your enemies, but your friends,” she told the community.
“The Forestry Bureau used to be like the devil to us,” Chu said.
“The bureau and the Saisiyat people used to have little interactions, but now we are working closely. Signing this partnership is a brave first step that has taken a lot of hard work,” he said.
Forestry Bureau Director-General Lin Hwa-ching (林華慶) thanked the Saisiyat National Congress for coordinating the northern and southern tribes.
The bureau will continue to increase cooperation between its district offices and local tribes, he said, adding that the bureau looks forward to working with the Saisiyat to promote its policies on environmental conservation.
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