Cidal Hunter School: Passing on traditional knowledge while having fun
The Cidal Hunter School is located in the Shuilian Community, an Amis community, located about a 30-minute drive south of Hualien City in Hualien County's Jian Township. Cidal refers to sun in the indigenous Amis language, and in the cultural sense, to mother, as the Amis tribe was traditionally a matrilineal society, with women having authority in the home. However, the men were responsible for defending the community and for administration of community affairs. They also hunted and fished. Thus, the hunter school part of the name refers to the training that Amis men underwent to learn how to survive and hunt successfully in the mountains. This type of training was also a way to pass on the legends of the tribe and the traditional knowledge of the ancestors in terms of living in harmony with Nature. Originally, this school was established to preserve these traditions and knowledge, and to pass them on to the younger generation of Amis. However, many non-Amis expressed an interest in learning about traditional culture and lifestyles. Thus, this hunter school began to develop a series of cultural tourism and ecotourism activities.
One-day Hunter's Experience + Forest Exploration Tour (9:00 am to 4:30 pm).
This is one of many available itineraries, in which participants gain a fundamental understanding of how Amis hunters survive for days in the mountains and traditional forest knowledge. Upon arriving to the Cidal Hunter School, located at the 24 kilometer marker along Provincial Highway 11, guides from this school greet participants and provide an overview of the Shuilian Community. This community has a long history and was described in Dutch documents some 300 years ago as a beautiful settlement, as it is nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Visitors are then guided to the school's outdoor classroom where they learn how to weave a headdress, symbolic of the unity of the Amis tribe, from coconut leaves. The next lesson involves weaving rope and creating a container for holding water from natural plant materials. Finally, visitors are taught how to start a fire without the use of matches or a lighter. All of these skills are needed for surviving and hunting in the mountains. By this time, visitors are sure to have worked up on appetite. But, not to worry, it is not necessary to hunt for food. Instead, residents of this community prepare a lunch of indigenous-style dishes, including wild greens, stone grilled fish and stone-grilled pork, served on plates made from natural taro leaves.
After lunch, it is time to enjoy more extreme activities such as climbing trees using rope and swinging from a height of four stories. Share your thoughts on the experiences of the day, as you sip some tea, take in the views of the Pacific Ocean and relax in the treetops. But, before starting out on the afternoon itinerary make sure to pay attention to the guide's introduction to the use of equipment and safety tips.
This is just one of the many tour options available at the Cidal Hunter School. Half-day, one-day and longer itineraries can be developed based on group interests and level of physical fitness. Based on mountains, river, ocean and Amis culture, there are a large number of activities available. For example, construct a traditional Amis shelter from natural materials, learn about the uses of plants and the local ecology, make hunting traps, practice your archery skills, cook a meal outdoors without modern equipment or utensils, go fishing in a river using only a net, or try your skill at shrimp and crab hunting. Other options include river tracing, rock climbing, diving, snorkeling, and deep sea fishing.
For more information:
Cidal Hunter School
106, Section 2, Zhonghua Road, Jian Township, Hualien County
Tel: (03)8513990 0986-997778