chapter  3
18 Pages

The hunter’s spirit: Autonomy and development in indigenous Taiwan


In the past two decades, indigenous peoples around the world have made important progress in advancing social and political rights. The Austronesians of Taiwan, over 467,000 people in 14 officially recognized tribes,2 have participated in this global process of indigenous decolonization. In the domestic legal framework of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the most important change to date has been the passage of the Basic Law on Indigenous Peoples (yuanzhuminzu jibenfa, 原住民族 基本法) on 21 January 2005. As new legislation based on the Basic Law is drafted and implemented, Taiwanese indigenous peoples hope to regain many aspects of autonomy, including the right to organize their economies. In fact, Section 21 explicitly requires that any land development or use of resources on indigenous land has to be done with the permission and participation of the indigenous peoples concerned. In this new political climate, it is thus important to explore what development has meant to Taiwanese indigenous peoples and what autonomy will entail for development. This chapter, based on anthropological field research with the Taroko and related Seediq communities, is the beginning of such research.3