Taipei’s annual Naluwan Cultural Festival should support the passing on of Aboriginal cultural heritage, Aboriginal advocates have said.
Since there are no exclusively Aboriginal districts or townships in Taipei, the city’s Indigenous People’s Commission hosts the festival to gather members of the 17 officially recognized Aboriginal groups.
The festival highlights one Aboriginal community as its theme each year.
Photo: Shen Pei-yao, Taipei Times
The event usually draws about 2,000 people, even though there are 16,508 Aborigines in Taipei, the Taipei Department of Civil Affairs Web site said.
Some Aborigines have said that they did not want to attend the festival in years when their community was not featured.
Joint harvest festivals do not carry much significance for the passing on of Aboriginal culture, Amis documentary director and advocate Mayaw Biho said.
When he served as the chairman of the Tainan City Government’s Ethnic Affairs Commission, he distributed the budget among different Aboriginal communities for them to host their own festivals, he said.
The joint harvest festival used to attract 1,000 people, but after the policy change, the number of attendees increased, Mayaw Biho said.
Oto Micyang, the president of the Association for Taiwan Indigenous Peoples’ Policy, said that joint harvest festivals lacked significance in terms of the passing on of culture.
The Taipei City Government and representatives should change their mindsets, Oto Micyang said.
Many Aboriginal associations host events only because they rely on government funding and the events do not have any cultural content, he added.
Over the past few years, people have voiced their desire for change, Taipei Indigenous Peoples’ Commission Chairman Chen Yi-cheng (陳誼誠) said.
For example, after the Amis community — the largest Aboriginal group in Taipei — was highlighted at the festival in 2013, Amis people were worried that they would have to wait for more than 10 years to host the event again, he said.
Nevertheless, the festival should not be discontinued rashly, Chen said, adding that the main point of the festival is the sports competitions that unite Aborigines.
In terms of maintaining the diversity of Aboriginal festivals, the commission encourages civic groups to host festivals for their own communities, he said, adding that the commission provides subsidies of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000 (US$3,406 and US$17,031) for such events.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Lee Fu Chung-wu (李傅中武) said he supported the commission’s call.
Smaller Aboriginal communities that have not hosted the festival cannot be ignored just because bigger communities have hosted it, he said.
The annual subsidies given to civic groups has been raised from NT$2 million to NT$3 million, Lee said, adding that it should be enough for each Aboriginal community to regularly host festivals.
KMT Taipei City Councilor Lee Fang-ju (李芳儒) has expressed the hope that the Naluwan Cultural Festival and civic group-hosted festivals would take place in the same month to create a Naluwan culture month.
Participation by Aborigines could be increased by expanding the scale of the event, Lee said.
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