September 7, 2022—CIP Minister Icyang‧Parod received a 12-member delegation from the Republic of the Marshall Islands today, led by its Minister of Culture and Internal Affairs, the Honorable Ota Jacob Kisino. This state visit is the first time the CIP has received the Minister of the Marshall Islands, after its Ministry of Culture and Internal Affairs signed the Austronesian Indigenous Cultural Affairs Cooperation Agreement with CIP Minister Icyang on January 3, 2019. This occasion is of special significance for bilateral exchanges between the Austronesian indigenous groups.
This was Minister Kisino’s first visit to Taiwan and the CIP since he took office in June 2022. As a gesture of welcome, the CIP presented him with the gift of a Paiwan lampwork bead pendant. This colorful, warm, and rustic family treasure of the Paiwan people expresses hope and blessings for future bilateral Austronesian cultural exchanges between Taiwan and the Marshall Islands. In addition, Minister Icyang personally placed an Amis shoulder bag (alofo), which symbolizes blessings, on Minister Kisino in a gesture of mutual friendship. The full text of Minister Icyang’s speech is as follows:
Minister Kisino, Mrs. Corina, Assistant Deputy Minister Aianta, Chairperson Koren, Deputy Chief of Mission Anjanette Celles Anjel, and members of the delegation, greetings! Nga 'ay ho! Iakwe (Marshallese greeting, pronounced as “ya kwe”)!
In 2007, I accompanied former President Chen Shui-Bian on his first visit to the Marshall Islands. In late October 2017 and again in March 2019, I accompanied President Tsai Ing-Wen on two visits to the Marshall Islands.
According to research conducted by the late American linguist Professor Robert Blust, Australian archaeologist Dr. Peter Bellwood, and Taiwanese Academician Li Jen-Kuei of Academia Sinica, Taiwan is believed to be the place of origin of Austronesian languages. This explains the many similarities between the Marshallese language and ours, such as the number 3 (Marshallese julu) and eyes (Marshallese meja).
On August 1, 2018, with support from President Tsai Ing-Wen and the Executive Yuan, the CIP relaunched the standing organization of the Austronesian Forum. With the Marshall Islands as a formal member of the Forum, your former President Dr. Hilda Cathy Heine made a special point of attending the opening ceremony that year to personally express her support.
On the basis of this precedent, the CIP signed the Austronesian Indigenous Cultural Affairs Cooperation Agreement with your Ministry of Culture and Internal Affairs on January 3, 2019. The contents of the Agreement cover exchanges and collaborations in language and culture, traditional knowledge and crafts, economy, sports, and climate change.
To implement this bilateral cooperation agreement, the CIP has been preparing for the upcoming Austronesian Traditional Ceremonial and Sports Exchange Program since the beginning of the year. Although the project was temporarily suspended due to the pandemic, it has finally come to fruition thanks to the efforts of Ambassador Neijon Rema Edwards, and now here you all are, having crossed the ocean to come to Taiwan.
In the next 10 days, we will arrange for you all to visit the Taroko tribe in Hualien, the Amis tribe in Taitung, and the Paiwan tribe in Pingtung, as well as to participate in the National Bunun Ear-Shooting Festival and Traditional Skills Competition held in Kaohsiung on September 15 and 16, so that you can compete with and get to know our Bunun brothers and sisters, and engage in bilateral cultural exchange with them.
Finally, I would like to welcome Minister Kisino and the Marshallese delegation to Taiwan once again. I wish you all a smooth and safe journey on your visit and hope you will enjoy Taiwan’s many indigenous cultures. My thanks to you all! A 'ray han kamo! Komol tata (Marshallese, pronounced as “go mo ta ta”)!