It is said that the Truku (Taroko) ancestors arrived in southwestern Taiwan in boats (rowcing, literally driftwood, meaning boat) from South Asia in the prehistorical period. After landing onshore, they settled in the plain area around Taichung to Tainan. Defeated by plain indigenous peoples in a conflict, the Truku people were forced to migrate to the mountain areas in central Taiwan, first from a place called Ayran in the west of Puli and gradually moved toward the mountain areas in the east. Through generations, they have migrated to 17 places. Eventually, they arrived at what is today’s Hezuo Village in Renai Township, Nantou County. The Truku people called this place Deluwan (Trukuo Truwan). It is a platform formed by three river valleys: Ayug Lqsan, Ayug Busi, and Ayug Brayaw. At Trukuo Truwan, the Truku people gradually developed their “collective historical memories” and “communal life experiences”.
Deluwan (Trukuo Truwan) is located in what is today’s Hezuo Village in Renai Township, Nantou County, covering three river valleys, known as Tru Ruku (three living places) in the Truku language. After combining the two “ru” sounds, it became the sound “Truku”. After settling in Truwan for a while, some Truku people moved to the platforms around Chunyang Hot Spring in Jingying Village, Renai Township, Nantou County, as the population grew and the farmland and hunting sites were limited. This group of people called themselves Tgdaya (from the upper area Truku Truwan). Another group moved to what is today’s “Pingjing (alang toda) Village” in Jingying Village, Renai Township, Nantou County. This group of Truku people called themselves “Toda” (meaning passing by or the only way). After moving from Truwan to Tgdaya and Toda, Truku people eventually turned into three group identities: Truku, Tgdaya, and Toda. As Truwan is the root, Truku is the common identity of all three subgroups.
During the 17th to the 18th century, the Truku (Taroko) people penetrated Qilai Mountain, Nenggao Mountain, and Hehuan Mountain in the Central Mountain Range to Hualien in eastern Taiwan to build their new homeland. Due to the domination of the Taroko people in eastern Taiwan, in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, the Dutch people, Japanese people, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) government called the place and the people Daruko or Truku. Under the Kanji influence, the name is Romanized as “Taroko (Truku)”. After the eastern expansion, the Truku people formed villages on the banks of the Liwu River and Truku River in Hualien. In the late 19th century, the Truku people began to move toward the midstream and downstream of the Liwu River to reach the Heping River drainage valley in the north and the Sanjan River, Mugua River, and Qingshui River drainage valleys in the south.
During Japanese colonization, the territory of the Truku people was determined as government land, limiting their space and freedom of living and leading to various resistance incidents, such as the “Xincheng Incident” in 1896, the “Weili Incident” in 1906, and the “Truku Incident” in 1914. After the Truku Incident, all groups of Truku people were controlled by the Japanese military. Those living deep in the mountains were forced to migrate to the mountain foot and distributed into different villages to decentralize their cohesion.