With sincere gratitude, we are very thankful that the original guardians of this land, and our brothers and sisters in Cordillera, warmly welcomed and allowed us, a group of indigenous youth from Taiwan, to stand before you, on your land, on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. We unite with you, collectively voice out for our rights and future.
The president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, made an official apology to the Indigenous Peoples last year on August 1. That is also the Indigenous Peoples Day in Taiwan. And it has been one year past.
Because of the death of his friend, Macliing Dulag, and the injuries he took during the assassination on the night of April 24, 1980, he realized that the fight against the Chico Dam and Marcos dictatorship cannot be solved through legal means alone. Thus, he joined the New People’s Army(NPA). He continued organizing the people and inspired youths to join the NPA.Although when the president made her apology, she has also proposed relevant policies and commitments. However, all those beautiful words serve no benefit toward the Indigenous Peoples.
The misunderstanding between the Indigenous Peoples and the non-Indigenous people is deepened. People distrust the government even further. That led to the result that some of our people and people who care about the Indigenous issues started a sleep-in protest in front of the presidential hall this February. It has been more than 5 months, they are still there, fighting for our right to land.
One year after the apology, the challenges and problems we Indigenous Peoples encounter are still ignored. When the government develops and initiates their policies, capitalism is still their priority.
Our land has been exploited. Our nature has lost its balance. Our people’s livelihoods and value have been changed. Without our traditional land, our traditional customs and cultures cannot be practiced and maintained. Thus, many of our youth have become unfamiliar with their own cultures. For us Indigenous youth, there are three most pressing issues we concern the deepest:
First, we lose most of our traditional languages. The Indigenous youth are not familiar with our own mother tongue. We seldom have the chance to talk to the elders. Moreover, the speed of reviving languages is way slower than the speed of the elders pass away.
Second, there are value gaps between different generations. When we youth tried to organize people in the community, the elders often hesitated and even disagreed with us. The impacts of colonization have deeply rooted in them and thus they choose to be silence.
Third, most of the Indigenous youth have low consciousness of their Indigenous identity. When we try to encourage the youth to take part in the public affairs in the community, they often have no interest to do so.
During our discussion and exchange with the youth from the Cordillera Youth Center, we realized that we encountered a lot of common issues. Actually, all the Indigenous Peoples around the world face many shared issues.
Therefore, we would like to call on the state governments to recognize and admit the historical wrongs and stop the long-term violation against Indigenous Peoples' sovereignty. The state governments should communicate and discuss with the Indigenous Peoples fully and develop and initiate proper policies.
At the same time, we are in an urgent need of raising the awareness and identity of Indigenous youth. So more Indigenous youth would pay attention to the obstacles and problems impacting Indigenous Peoples. Let's be creative and proactive. We should stand and work with the communities and utilize our expertise and knowledge on actions in all different forms and means.
To everyone who lives and struggles on this land, we all have the rights and duties to understand and try to resolve the obstacles emerged from the land. With the understanding and commitment of the non-Indigenous people and the mainstream society, there is the possibility to build a multi-cultural state.
We are the beloved children of the land. None of us is an outsider.