The Truku (Taroko) society is characterized by the patrilineal nuclear family, with men inheriting the family property, and monogamy is strictly followed. Traditionally, men must hunt (equipped with hunting skills) and women must weave (pass the qualification) before they are qualified to get married.
2. Galang/Alang (village)
Traditionally, a village (galang/alang) refers to a group of people living in the same area; sharing rituals, hunting, and responsibility/redemption together; and maintaining common survival and property. In short, it refers to a family group living in a specific territory, covering the living environment, slash-and-burn agriculture area, and hunting area. Although the term galang/alang has different implications, such as “community”, “village”, “settlement”, and “village, in different times, it always refers to the minimal unit forming a Truku society. Traditionally, a community erects stones as the boundary to indicate the territory. When a community relocates due to population growth, they will find other space near the hunting ground or the territory to form other communities. As a result, the structure is a big tribe with small villages formed by families. Such a distributed society formed by a lineal organization is the main characteristic of a traditional Truku community.
Originally, the term galang/alang implied an organization formed by consanguinity or by affinity, including the sharing of offerings, hunting, and responsibility/redemption. Due to environmental adaptation and contacts with other ethnic groups after migration, and the management policy of rulers in different times, the nature and organization of villages have changed gradually. To facilitate ruling and management, the Japanese colonial government adopted the “family dispersion and group migration” policy to disintegrate a village by mixing a community of different families. As a result, the traditional tribal concept of the Truku people eventually collapsed. This policy has also impacted the politics, economy, society, religion, value, and operation of the traditional community. In addition, the ethnicity concept eventually declined due to the ethnic heterogeneity among families in a village, bringing forward a new group identity. After restoration of Taiwan, Truku (Taroko) has become the ethnic identity of the group. Nowadays, increasingly more Truku people leave their hometown, and the implication of the term galang/alang has evolved from lineal and territorial connections into “township”, “town”, and “county”, i.e. the administrative district.
The bukun (chief) is the leader of a Truku tribe. He is the smartest and most righteous person elected by members of the community to represent the community in foreign affairs, including connections and negotiations and to settle or adjudicate internal disputes to maintain tribal harmony, such as Chief Holok-Naowi of the Hehesi (Xoxos) village. As he was smart and brave, generous and righteous, articulate and helpful, he was elected as the chief in the late 19th century (late Qing dynasty) and earned respect from people for settling disputes among villages. Later, he became the joint chief of the Skadang region and the grand chief of 40 villages in the outer Truku area. When the Japanese troops occupied Hualien during Japanese colonization, Holok-Naowi joined this Han friend Li, A-Long to resist the Japanese troops to defend self-determination over the tribal territory. With the assistance of chiefs Wadan-Awei and Bisha'ao-Bawan, Naowi resisted the Japanese troops for 18 years. The resistance ended after the Truku Incident in 1914.
4. Gaya (Ritual Group)
In the Truku language, gaya means daily life norms passed down from ancestors. These norms have become the code of conduct and code of ethics of the Truku people. A gaya group is mainly formed by one or two close relative groups and other distant relative groups and in-law groups. Members of a gaya group farm, hold rituals, and follow taboos together, suggesting a relative, economic, religious, and regional functional group. The Truku people believe that they will be punished by their ancestors for violating gaya. If a member breaks gaya, he/she will be requested to make blood redemption by sacrificing pigs, chickens, or ducks based on the severity of offence of the taboos. This tradition is still practiced by Truku people today.