National Taiwan University (NTU) said it plans to return bones of Bunun villagers unearthed more than four decades ago, university secretary-general Lin Ta-te (林達德) said.
In the 1960s, NTU researchers dug up 64 skeletons from the Loiq gravesite at Bahuan Village (馬遠) in Hualien County’s Wanrong Township (萬榮) for anthropological studies.
The university has said the excavation was done with the permission of village leaders after it learned that there were plans to move the burial ground.
A self-help association made up of the village’s residents earlier this month issued a formal statement calling for the school to return the remains of their ancestors.
The statement was followed by a talk between the Ministry of Education, the school and village representatives last week, hosted by Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅), a descendant of the Atayal people on her mother’s side.
Lin said the school would return the skeletons the same way it did with the bones of Sediq chief Mona Rudao, which researchers returned to Nantou County for burial in 1973.
Mona’s remains ended up in the university’s archeology department after he was killed leading the unsuccessful 1930 Wushe Incident, the last major Aboriginal uprising against Japanese colonial rule.
Although the bones of Bunun villagers are being kept at NTU’s College of Medcine’s Graduate Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Lin said that for the sake of caution, the school would invite professors from the anthropology department to take part in the returning process to make sure it goes smoothly.
The self-help association is expect to hold a news conference on Thursday to formally announcing the plans, Lin said, adding that after which members of the association would come to the NTU to claim the remains of their ancestors.
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