The sharing and exchange forum in Sakuban Community （first row from the left: Susan Moore, Deputy Director from Australia Office in Taiwan; Joyce Bonner, the member of Yamani Project; Akawyan Pakawyan, the Puyuma teacher; and Leonora Adidi , the member of Yamani Project）
Indigenous Language Revitalization Experience Exchange between Taiwan and Australia
Center of International Indigenous Affairs （CIIA） hosted two members, Joyce Bonner and Leonora Adidi, of the musical collaboration project, Yamani, to have a forum and visit communities with Deputy Director Susan Moore（莫蘇善）from Australia Office in Taiwan and members from Reconciliation Subcommittee of Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee on November 6th and 7th, 2019. Together, they responded to UN’s Year of Indigenous Languages and the challenges it is faced with.
The Director of CIIA Dr. Jolan Hsieh （Bavaragh Dagalomai 謝若蘭） specially invited Akawyan Pakawyan （林清美） from Sakuban Community, Puyuma People who just won the Circle of Honor in the category of “Elders of Indigenous Wisdom” from World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium this year to have an exchange of teaching experience with members of Yamani through singing songs in their languages together. Under the similar historical background of being assimilated and colonized, both parties shared the process of their finding of disappearing native languages. A strong bond has therefore been constructed between Taiwan and Australia.
Joyce Bonner and Leonora Adidi said that for not letting their languages die away, they had learnt linguistics. Coming back to their communities with such skills, they began their revitalization of native languages with full passion. Together with some women who are also dedicated to language-preserving movement, they found the musical collaboration project～YAMANI. Through mastering the power of song and dance, they managed to let children and many other non-indigenous folks learn their culture and language and gain a nationwide recognition and appreciation in Australia. Akawyan Pakawyan also encouraged people to be confident in their own ethnic groups and cultures as she has weathered through several different colonizers and generations and still kept protecting her languages from dying away. Insisting on passing her cultures and languages onto her grandchildren, she said “As long as we are still alive, the task of passing down our beautiful language and keeping our culture alive will never end.”
Besides, the guests also visited Amis Artist, Hana Keliw （哈拿‧葛琉）, in ‘Atolan Community in Taitung. By having a tour in “Hana’s Box Studio,” they had an in-depth look into how the returning youths have been dedicated to the passing of traditional fiber arts which include crocheting, weaving, and embroidering in the past twenty years. Hana Keliw, a very proud NDHU alumna, emphasized that: “By crocheting with women from the community, we are able to create a spiritual and material working space which is perfect for healing trauma as we did in the old time.” Feeling how Taiwan indigenous people’s creativity and strength really are, Deputy Director Susan Moore also said that it is surely a great healing force of historical trauma as all the women could gather together.
Sifo Lakaw （鍾文觀）, the CEO of Hualien Indigenous Community College, also took the opportunity to hold “Indigenous Language Forum: Revitalizing Partnership and Strategy of Indigenous Languages” with Joyce Bonner and Leonora Adidi’s sharing of experience of how they collected their traditional tunes and composed their songs in indigenous language. Through sharing of using indigenous songs to promote their languages by the younger generation, the new generation impressed our Australian guests. They were moved by the commitment and efforts the new indigenous generation in Taiwan have been made so far.
CIIA has been dedicated to promoting indigenous experience sharing and academic exchanges between different nations. Director Bavaragh Dagalomai also devoted her knowledge and energy to strengthening activities of indigenous culture issues are held among Taiwan and other Austronesian – Pacific countries such as Australia and Aotearoa Nez Zealand. As one of the indigenous people from Torres Strait Island, Australia, Deputy Director Susan Moore emphasized that the strong bond which is constructed through people from both nations will be an important diplomatic force when it comes to international indigenous connection and supports.
Full Context：National Dong Hwa University