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Indigenous Peoples’ Day—A Day for Native Taiwanese

    Have you ever heard of Indigenous Peoples’ Day observed on August 1? Indigenous peoples in Taiwan are native Taiwanese residing in Taiwan. However, they have been referred to as barbarians, exotic or mountain peoples for over 4 centuries by the immigrating authorities. The derogatory referrals have brought enormous harm to the identity of the indigenous people. The Association for Advocating the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan initiated the substitute of indigenous peoples for mountain peoples in 1984 in hopes of promoting their identity. A parade advocating constitutional inclusion of the right name, ownership of land, autonomy was launched on June 23, 1994, followed by a meeting of President Teng-hui Lee with the leader of the protest on July 1, in which Lee promised support for the campaign. On July 28, ballots were cast in favor of the politically correct name in the National Assembly, despite winning by a very small, close margin, entitling the indigenous peoples the name they deserve and legally demolishing the name of mountain peoples. The constitutional inclusion succeeded on August 1, when the amendment was officially promulgated. Another parade took place on June 16, 1997 calling for constitutional inclusion of the nations, autonomy, and ownership of land. With the support from indigenous National Assembly members, indigenous peoples have gained their official name of indigenous tribe, which has its collective connotation. The Indigenous Peoples’ Committee held a celebration commemorating the name change on July 31, 2005. The following day, August 1, was declared by President Shui-bian Chen as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 11 years later, President Tsai apologized to all indigenous peoples in Taiwan and promised to engage in promotion of historical justice for them and transitional justice.     
    The first of August, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, has been observed in commemoration of the journey of earning the politically correct name. It is a day of reminder of the appropriate historical significance of the indigenous peoples and the fact that they deserve their dignity. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge in 2021, the Indigenous Peoples’ Council (IPC) of Taipei has changed the indigenous bazaar and ballad dance events to static events. In addition to discounted visits to exhibition venues in the City Hall on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, posters showing the origin and stories of the particular day as well as culture of 16 indigenous peoples have been posted on the windows of metro trains serving Tamsui-Xinyi and Bannan lines. Passers-by may be able to better understand the significance and the value of these groups and learn the city’s respect for diversity and inclusion.    
    The IPC cordially invites all indigenous visitors to pay a visit to designated venues of Taipei City Hall. Please download the application of Taipei Pass for verification upon entry into the venues. Visitors are encouraged to take the Taipei Metro, particularly Tamsui-Xinyi and Bannan lines, to explore Taipei. Questions may be directed to Ms. Zhong at Taipei IPC at 02-2720-8889 or 1999 ext. 2070.