Hualien County’s Fuli Township (富里) has become the nation’s first self-proclaimed Pingpu Aboriginal township, following a declaration by township Mayor Huang Ling-lan (黃玲蘭), who also pledged to pursue official recognition from the central government.
There are 9,000 Pingpu Aborigines among the township’s population of 11,000.
The central government does not recognize the Pingpu people’s Aboriginal status.
Most of the Pingpu Aborigines in the township live in Dongli Village (東里), previously known as Dajhung (大庄).
Local historian Chang Chen-yueh (張振岳) estimates that at least 400 households in the township and more than 1,000 people are Pingpu Aborigines.
Pan (潘), a surname that the Qing Dynasty government granted to Pingpu Aborigines, is the most common surname in Fuli, he added.
In 2005, the then-Tainan county government recognized the Siraya Pingpu Aborigines as a tribe and started to allow Sirayas to register their tribal identity in 2009, while the Greater Kaohsiung Government declared last month that it would grant the same recognition on the city level, Huang said.
Fuli would follow the example of the two cities, and campaign for the official recognition of Pingpu Aborigines — mostly Sirayas — in the township by recognizing the tribe on a township level, in a bid to raise awareness of the tribe’s identity and preserve its culture.
On Friday, more than 130 Siraya Aborigines gathered at the konkai (公廨), a traditional place of assembly and religious worship to celebrate the township office’s recognition of the Siraya tribe, they also prayed to ancestral spirits, asking them to bless the campaign.
Huang called on all Sirayas in Fuli to submit copies of the household registration records granted to them during the Japanese colonial period to the local household registration office, adding that if a household registration record is marked with shou (熟) or ping (平) the family was officially recognized as Pingpu Aborigines by the Japanese colonial government.
After collecting sufficient copies, the township office intends to deliver the documents to the central government via the county government, and request official recognition of Fuli as an Aboriginal township.