The Council of Indigenous Peoples held a press conference today (June 26) to announce that from July 1 until the end of the year, a budget of NT$59 million has been approved to incentivize 400 churches to collaborate in promoting the preservation of indigenous languages. In the future, the Council will continue to promote incentive measures for national language programs.
Acting Chairperson Icyang delivered the following speech:
Esteemed pastors, priests, brothers and sisters, members of the media, good day to you all. Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to the Christian denominations for their response to the Council of Indigenous Peoples' efforts in promoting indigenous language churches, collaborating to preserve the languages of indigenous peoples.
During the authoritarian era, the language policy of the Nationalist government upheld Mandarin Chinese as the sole language and prohibited us from speaking our native languages. Policies were used to actively eliminate our languages. Apart from families, churches were the most common gathering places for indigenous peoples, and for many years, churches fortunately persisted in using various indigenous languages for preaching, scripture, and singing, ensuring the transmission of our languages to the present day.
President Tsai Ing-wen, when apologizing on behalf of the nation to indigenous peoples in 2016, specifically mentioned, “Indigenous peoples originally had their own mother tongues, but assimilation and imperialistic policies during the Japanese era, as well as the prohibition of indigenous languages by the government after 1945, resulted in the severe loss of indigenous languages.”
After the President's apology, the Council of Indigenous Peoples promoted the Indigenous Languages Development Act, which took 12 years to legislate and was completed in June 2017. Thereafter, the languages of indigenous peoples became national languages. With this legal framework in place, the Council of Indigenous Peoples could allocate more funding each year to promote various measures for language revitalization, including indigenous language caregivers, professional indigenous language teachers, the establishment of language promotion personnel, language certifications, the establishment of language promotion organizations, and the establishment of indigenous language institutes.
From September to December of last year, the Council of Indigenous Peoples held seven consultation meetings in various counties and cities to discuss how to sustain and strengthen the use and learning of indigenous languages within churches. After pooling our collective wisdom, we announced the "Incentive Program for Indigenous Churches to Promote Language Development" on February 16 this year, which rewards churches for using indigenous languages in preaching, Sunday school, scripture, and singing, creating a friendly indigenous language environment.
Starting from July 1 until the end of the year, the Council of Indigenous Peoples will utilize NT$59 million from the budget allocated for national language programs to incentivize 400 churches to respond to our efforts in promoting indigenous languages. In the future, the Council will continue to promote incentive programs. Once again, I extend my gratitude to all denominations for joining hands in promoting the preservation of indigenous languages. Thank you, Aray."