Taipei (AsiaNews) - Yesterday,
August 1, the Catholic Church in Taiwan celebrated the annual "Day for
Aborigines", the original inhabitants of the island. In
a letter by the bishops published this week, the focus is on the people who
historically were the first inhabitants of Formosa island.
The aboriginal peoples, divided into dozens of tribes, had a difficult life in the past, suffering attempts at colonization and assimilation. According to 2009 figures there are now about 500 thousand Taiwanese aborigines, who live mostly in the mountains of the island. Language barriers, poor education and unemployment often result in their marginalization.
The letter published by the bishops in Taiwan offers some indications relevant to their situation. Three key points in particular should be emphasized:
Those who live in contact with
the natives of Taiwan, can not help but be affected by the love of life and joy
that children, youth and adults show in their aboriginal songs and dances
passed down from the collective memory of older generations. According
to many Catholics "this joy and passion for life is a great sign of God's
smile in the world."
There are many attempts to restore value and pride in aboriginal culture in Taiwan. Last winter, an epic film was released about the life of a local hero at the beginning of the twentieth century who sought to defend the inhabitants of the island from foreign conquest. The hero of the film is an aboriginal, masterfully played by a Presbyterian minister of the Atayal tribes', who is also a professional actor. The film lasts more than four hours and is the most lavish film in Taiwan's cinema history. It was first screened in theaters and then repeated on television just last week. It is now on sale on DVD, titled "Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq bale". This testifies that the aboriginal tribes are "now back to the fore" in Taiwanese society, because they represent an essential part of the island's history and identity.