“Welcome home, my brothers and sisters.” A group of 67 aboriginal Sarawak people from Malaysia arrived at Ita Taiwan Indigenous Cultural Resort on the afternoon of August, 20th. They gathered with local tribal food vendors to exchange unique food and drink cultures with one another. Magistrate Ching-Ling Yao welcomed our guests while pointing out that Taitung is working to be the capital of Austronesian culture, where we can showcase our unique aboriginal culture and foods to the international stage. The participating parties got along happily, especially when discovering the many similarities between the two languages.
The visiting Aboriginal group is a multicultural and diverse society. Similar to the Taiwanese aboriginal people, they belong to the Austronesian islands. The visiting group was composed mainly of Iban, Bidayuh, Dayak, Kenyah, and over 20 other indigenous groups. Each group has kept its unique cultural traditions. Some Sarawak aboriginal people have similar living habits or language elements as Taiwanese aboriginal people. For example, the number 5 is “lima” and the word for pig is “babu” in both languages. In addition, there are similarities in diet, including eating wild ferns, taro, and cassava as part of their diets.
Magistrate Yao mentions that as Taitung has the greatest number of aboriginal tribes in Taiwan, we are working hard to promote the “slow economy.” Taitung is working to develop a natural economic model that meets the needs of the people. In the meantime, by connecting local tribal industries, products, ecological sustainability concepts, and the wisdom and culture that can be found in the traditional aboriginal lifestyle, we are working hard to create an “Austronesian cultural capital” to share Taitung’s unique aboriginal culture with the world.