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Class Field trip to Wulai

Last week, Prof. Kuan arranged a field trip for his class in “Modernization and Social Development of the Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan”. They visited Wulai District famous for their hot springs and popular among tourists. However, this time was all about learning about the Indigenous culture and traditions that are being kept alive over the last few decades.

The trip began at the Wulai Atayal Museum. Due to this year’s circumstances, parts of the exhibit were not open to the public. The remainder that was open was dedicated to the evolution of hunting practices of the Atayal, one of the largest indigenous groups in Taiwan. These changes did not only affect the Indigenous communities socially, but also economically and politically. Located near the Wulai Falls, the Forestry Museum gave a historic overview of the transformation of the area and the use of land had become more production-oriented.

The class also visited indigenous associations (especially in the fields of hunting and weaving) to get a more deeper understanding of how indigenous traditions are kept alive for future generations to come. While archery can be regarded a sport, hunting is practice that needs to be well respected. It is intertwined with the notion of gaga, part of the Atayal belief system.

The students could give archery a try, with some very successful in shooting a fake boar. They also headed to the weaving association of Wulai to get hands-on experience in weaving. This practice dates back to many centuries but has also changed due to modernisation and industrialisation of Taiwan. Although most products are nowadays manufactured, the knowledge and skills of hand-made traditional attire or cloth are still an essential part of their indigenous identity.

The last stop brought the class to the Presbyterian Church that held an exhibit on the indigenous community allowing the people of today connect with the past and history of Wulai.

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