Every summer, the Amis tribe holds what is the most well-known of the indigenous ceremonies, the Harvest Festival. Traditionally, the Harvest Festival followed the harvest of millet. Although the Amis tribe no longer grows this grain in large quantities, these ceremonies are still performed because they carry deep cultural meaning.
In addition to their cultural, educational and artistic pursuits, many of the residents of the Tafalong Community spend their time farming. A very unique crop, red glutinous rice, called Katepaay in the Amis language, has been grown here for a very time. This is the only place it is cultivated in Taiwan, making it both economically and culturally valuable.
The Taiwan Aborigines Education Development Association is working to promote indigenous culture, including cuisine. Magao, also known as mountain peppercorn, is a traditional spice used by several of Taiwan's indigenous tribes. It has a slightly black pepper taste, similar to ginger, and a hint of lemony aroma, as well as is a natural preservative. It grows wild at high elevations and is cultivated by indigenous communities in mountainous areas. This traditional spice has been used to create Magao pineapple cakes.
On January 17, 2007, the Sakizaya became Taiwan’s 13th officially recognized indigenous tribe. From their homeland on the Hualien plains of eastern Taiwan, the Sakizaya people were driven out due to disputes with and defeat by Chinese imperial forces in the 19th century. The Sakizaya hid among the Amis tribe, through the Japanese occupation period (1895-1945). Hence, the Sakizaya was considered a subgroup of the Amis for a long time. The Sakizaya is currently concentrated in Hualien County with a population estimated at between 5,000 and 10,000, but a much lower number has registered as members of this group.
Kimbo Hu is one of Taiwan’s most respected musicians although his style of music is far from the mainstream. It is a unique blend of elements of Taiwanese indigenous music and Western folk and blues. Although he has long been active on the music scene, Kimbo did not release his first album until well over the age of 50.
Of Taiwan’s 14 officially recognized tribes, three traditionally possessed matrilineal societies (the Amis, Kavalan and Puyuma tribes). However, there are very few examples remaining of women’s ceremonies among these tribes.
The origins of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples are not completely clear, but what is known is that they are part of the Austronesian language family, the most widely distributed language family in the world.
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