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The President attends a Sbalay ceremony of reconciliation between the Tayal indigenous communities in the Skaru watershed and national forest management agencies

  • 更新時間:2021/06/04 15:21:06

The Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) organized a Sbalay ceremony of reconciliation between the Tayal indigenous communities in the Skaru watershed and national forest management agencies at the Tayal Ancestral Square today (April 23). President Tsai attended and gave a speech at the ceremony, which was also attended by CIP Minister Icyang Parod, legislator Saidhai Tahovecahe, the deputy magistrates of Hsinchu and Miaoli Counties, Veterans Affairs Council Deputy Minister Lee Wen-chung, Ministry of the Interior Construction and Planning Agency Director-General Wu Hsin-hsou, Ministry of Culture Chief Secretary Chen Teng-chin, Forestry Bureau Director-General Lin Hwa-ching, and the leaders of the Indigenous communities in the Skaru watershed. Many members of the Indigenous communities in the Skaru watershed also participated in the event to witness this Sbalay ceremony that was made possible through great efforts.

CIP Minister Icyang said that after four years of struggle and countless negotiations, a Tayal ancestral spirit monument was finally erected here today at the same spot as a veterans memorial, demonstrating the different viewpoints of the government and the Indigenous peoples and the mutual respect of diverse historical perspectives. The following is a full transcript of the speech given by CIP Minister Icyang Parod:

When President Tsai apologized to Indigenous peoples on behalf of the government on August 1, 2016, she specifically mentioned Sbalay—the traditional reconciliation culture of the Tayal people—and spoke of how the achieving of reconciliation starts with seeking out the truth, and that sincere apology and acceptance are required during this process. Today, the CIP is extremely honored to oversee this reconciliation between the Tayal indigenous communities in the Skaru watershed and national forest management agencies that is held in a traditional Tayal ceremony.

The Office of Forestry Administration of the Taiwan Provincial Government’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry began works on the Dalu Forest Trail in January 1963 and later erected a veterans memorial for deceased veterans on the trail in March 1965. The decision is understandable from the perspective of the governing agency at the time; however, the Indigenous peoples saw the government’s large-scale development of forest trails and logging and afforestation activities as an invasion of their natural rights, thus resulting in conflicts and clashes.

Starting in July 2016 and after over four years of struggle and countless negotiations, a Tayal ancestral spirit monument was finally erected here today at the same spot as a veterans memorial, demonstrating the different viewpoints of the government and the Indigenous peoples and the mutual respect in diverse historical perspectives.

After the President issued an apology on behalf of the government, the Executive Yuan and its subordinate ministries have actively implemented the eight promises made by the President and gradually secured great progress. I would therefore like to shed some light on the policies related to today’s reconciliation:

Firstly, the ruling promulgated by the CIP and the Council of Agriculture (COA) in June 2017 relaxed restrictions on the Indigenous people’s right to hunt for the non-profit purpose of “self-use.”

Secondly, the COA and CIP together promulgated the Regulations Governing Indigenous Peoples Collecting Forest Products Based on their Customs in July 2019, which rules that Indigenous peoples can legally collect forest products such as wild plants and fungi in state- or government-owned forests. Thirdly, in order to resolve the complicated land issues faced by the Indigenous peoples, we have taken an individualized legislative approach to overcoming legislative hurdles. The amendment of The Logging Ban Compensation for Lands Reserved for Indigenous Peoples Act promulgated on December 31, 2019 expanded the scope of Indigenous people reserved lands eligible for compensation to include both national parks and watershed lands. In the past year, the land area eligible for compensation was increased to 63,354 hectares, helping 42,730 Indigenous peoples receive a total compensation of NT$1.9 billion.

I wish to express my thanks to the COA Forestry Bureau, Veterans Affairs Council, Shei-Pa National Park Headquarters, Hsinchu County Government, Miaoli County Government, Wufeng Township Office, and other related agencies for their active implementation of the government’s policy goal of promoting Indigenous historical justice. I would also like to thank my fellow Indigenous peoples for letting go of past conflicts and emotions in our history and for willing to start a new, reconciled relationship with the country’s government agencies on the ground of mutual understanding. Finally, I want to express my gratitude to President Tsai for apologizing to the Indigenous peoples on behalf of the government and as the leader of this country on August 1, 2016. Your apology helped bring about today’s reconciliation between the governing agencies and the people of the Skaru Indigenous communities, who shall work together in the future to manage and protect these mountain forests.