Academic symposium held to reconstruct indigenous-Hakka history

To promote positive interaction and sustainable development of ethnic relations, the Hakka Affairs Council (HAC) took the lead in launching a series of events to pay tribute to indigenous peoples in 2020. Among these continued events was a symposium on rewriting the Hakka reclamation history of northern Taiwan, which was held at College of Hakka Studies of National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU, 國立陽明交通大學) in Hsinchu County on Oct. 30 and attended by HAC Minister Yiong Con-ziin and Deputy Minister Afas Falah of Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP).
A symposium on rewriting the Hakka reclamation history of northern Taiwan was held in NYCU

Noting that Taiwan’s historical discourse is usually based on the perspective of the Han Chinese, Minister Yiong said different ethnic groups in the past didn’t deliberately reconstruct history with new viewpoints. He noted that inscriptions that describe indigenous people from the early days of Hakka villages in northern Taiwan often used derogatory words usually translated as “barbarian” or “aborigine.” These inscriptions are very common in the Hakka regions or the Hakka-indigenous border zones, the Minister added. 

Despite the 400 years of Han Chinese from China migrating to Taiwan, reshaping the Hakka-indigenous history is a homework that has never been done, Minister Yiong said, adding that “since the democratization of Taiwan, we have been talking about multiculturalism and constantly promoting the harmony between indigenous and Hakka groups, but this is not the original appearance of history.” It is necessary to understand the different aspects of history in order to become a complete Taiwanese Hakka, he emphasized, adding the challenge of rewriting the indigenous-Hakka history is serious and tough.

HAC is concerned that many chapters on the indigenous-Hakka reclamation history were not written from the neutral point of view, resulting in bias, misunderstandings, and even conflicts. Hence, to reconstruct the past history and overcome the distrust between the two ethnic groups, the Council commissioned NYCU to organize the academic project “Tribute to Indigenous Peoples: Rewriting the Hakka Reclamation History of Northern Taiwan” with a group of indigenous and Hakka scholars to reflect on the prejudice produced by Han/Hakka-centered history.