GAC Taiwan Christianity and Indigenous People


Good afternoon and welcome. My name is Amy Kinsel. I’m Dean of Social
Sciences and Library here at Shoreline
Community College. And it’s my pleasure to
introduce Mayami Steinmetz who will talk with us
today about research she carried out this fall in
the Republic of China, Taiwan. Mayami spent four months
doing research in Taiwan about the ethnic identity and
culture of indigenous peoples. And her research included
extensive interviews with some of the leaders of
Taiwan’s 16 indigenous groups, as well as more interviews and
research at some of Taiwan’s premier universities. She found the
indigenous tribes to be a resilient and unified group
with a strong ethnic identity. And they are united by
their history of struggle and hardship, but also by
the adoption of Christianity, practiced by the majority
of members of these tribes. This conversion helped them
cope with acculturation process under both Japanese
and Chinese authority. And Mayami will speak
about her research in a couple of minutes. Professor Steinmetz started
teaching here in 1993. She teaches Japanese language
as well as East Asian history, including Japanese civilization. She has a master’s degree in
Asian studies at the University of Oregon and started
her teaching career in order to get students
to open their eyes and see things from
different perspectives. She’s an advisor to the
Shoreline Japanese Culture Club, and being a
club advisor, she says, is fun because she
can enjoy time with students and be a part of
student activities. I’d also like to acknowledge
that Director-General of the Taipei Economic and
Cultural Office in Seattle, Vincent Yao, has
joined us today. Please join me in welcoming him. [APPLAUSE] And we’re very honored that
you’re able to be here. Before we start,
I want to mention a couple of housekeeping items. There are emergency
exits out to your left and in the back
where you came in. We’re recording this
event for future viewing. And during the question
and answer period, we’ll ask you to
use a microphone so that your questions
will be recorded. Before you leave, please take a
moment to fill out the feedback survey on your chair. So without any further ado,
please welcome Professor Mayami Steinmetz. [APPLAUSE] So this is the poster
that I asked to produce. And the picture here– this is the church I
spent, I would say, like two months,
September and October. And this church is located in
Hualien county [NON-ENGLISH] east coast of Taiwan. And I’m going to
show you a map later so you would see where it is. So these men are the
elders of the church. And this picture was taken
by Pastor Hannah, my friend, during the Harvest
Festival– now they call it as a Thanksgiving Festival– in August last year. So they are wearing a
traditional Amis clothing, and they’re called
Amis tribe people. In Chinese, I guess, they
pronounce it as [NON-ENGLISH],, and so if I say that, some
people may be familiar. Oh, yeah, you are nodding. Yeah, because when I talk
with the speakers of Mandarin and I say, oh, I
was in Taiwan and I researched about Amis people. And they’re like, Amis
people, who are they? And so I say, [NON-ENGLISH],,
and then they say, oh, yes. Yeah, OK. And do you know what
they’re blowing, what kind of musical
instrument they’re blowing? [INTERPOSING VOICES] They look like horns, right? Shofar, shofar, ram’s horn. Who would usually use those? What nationality? Jewish. Jewish, yes. This is a Jewish tradition. So now, looking at
this indigenous church, Christian church, they combine
this traditional clothing, and their festivals
are more Bible-based, Christian Bible-based. But also they really
identify themselves very similar to Jewish
people, like exodus, you know, they’re delivered
from slavery of Egypt. I’m talking about Old Testament. I’m talking about the story
of thousand years ago. And they relate,
they totally relate. Participating in this church
and talking with people, it was an interesting
feeling of the combination of traditional
Amis culture in it, and also a new element
of Jewish culture. And I got confused. Who are these people? I have 50 slides, and Larry said
don’t mention it, because then people would leave. [LAUGHTER] But I’m telling you
I have 50 slides. But the first 20 slides are
the background information, which are not my main point. And so I’m going to zap
through these first 20. And I want to talk about
these people the most. OK so first of all, I want
to thank the Taipei Economic Cultural Office in Seattle. And they’re the ones who
selected me and forwarded my name to compete
with other scholars. The Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of Republic of China, I was selected. And so I got the
fellowship, and so that’s how I could go to Taiwan. I spent two months in Taipei. National Taiwan University
hosted me for two months. And then I went
to Hualien County, and National Dong Hwa
University hosted me two months. The reason why I
selected Hualien is because the Dong Hwa
University has the Indigenous Studies, and Dong Hwa
is the only university which has Indigenous Studies. And the Hualien is
really important area for the Indigenous Studies. When you go to Hualien, the
only thing you think about is the beautiful scenery. It is beautiful. But there’s so
much culture to it. Right now the population of
Taiwan is over 23 million. And 70% of the population
are the Hoklo ethnic groups. And usually they’re
called Taiwanese. So when people say, oh I’m
Taiwanese, usually the Hoklo, they are Minnan people. And the Hakka minority
people are about 14%. And the mainlanders
who went to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek in 1949
when the Republic of China moved from Beijing to
Taipei, the government. And then 2% are
Austronesian-speaking indigenous people. So that’s the target. So indigenous people are the
ones that I studied about. So I apologize for
those of you who are expecting me to talk
about the Taiwanese culture, the mainstream culture. I’m not going to talk about it. So I apologize to begin with– really only 2%. So Austronesian-speaking
people are not only in Taiwan. So Taiwan is right here. All over the world,
the indigenous people, the Austronesian-speaking
people are spread around the oceanic area. The Taiwanese indigenous people
lost their sovereignty little by little. So this chart– if I talk about
this chart in details, that’s the end of my presentation. [LAUGHTER] So I’m going to just
point out here, in 1895– [INAUDIBLE] I’m going to talk about
the government recognized the Taiwan indigenous people. [INAUDIBLE] We can talk about this later. But please let me speak. So this 1930– the Wushe
rebellion is really the key point for the
indigenous people turning into the Christians. And so how many
people have watched Seediq Valley, the movie? You have watched. You have watched. And so that was the
battle between the Seediq, the tribal people, and also
Japanese colonial rulers. And so the Seediq people
are totally crushed. And so that, 1930 marks the
100% Japanese colonization. So this map was created in 1901
based on the Japanese the map. And so this red line divides
the indigenous governed area. So in 1901 still the Japanese
were not really suppressing the indigenous people 100%. Because this area– this
map it doesn’t show, but this area is really
the mountainous area. It’s really hard to go. The colonial rule– what I want
to talk about is the village head, normally, the
indigenous villages– the village head was
the important person who governed everything. But the Japanese police replaced
the head of the village. And also restricted
private landownership. And then the
indigenous people who lived in the mountains
were enclosed by the electrified wire fences. Therefore, the
Japanese government prohibited the people who
lived in the plain area and the people who lived
in the mountain area– they could not communicate. In order to understand why
the indigenous people became Christians, I decided to
use Anthony Wallace’s– he’s the anthropologist–
and his theory of revitalization movement. The indigenous people
had the conscious effort to make the culture
better, more satisfying for their daily life. And therefore they took
almost like extreme emergency measures. In order to have a
revitalization movement, there are five stages. But I want to especially
talk about this third point and the fourth point. And the third period is
called a cultural distortion. When the group of
people are suffering from the stress
for longest time, they begin to develop this
cultural distortion phenomena. So at the end, the
behaviors might be alcoholism, or depression,
that kind of things. And then the life
loses meaning to why should I live,
why should I exist. And so that kind of
cultural distortion– if you just let
it go like that– so this process taught me
leads the society to the death, so the death of a society. Meaning like this group of
people totally disappears, most likely assimilated
into a different culture. And therefore in order not
to have a death of a society they have to have this
revitalization process. So the first one, they would
have a spiritual leader appearing to– and then this spiritual leader
is going to be a prophet. And then this prophet will
have disciples and followers. For the indigenous
peoples’ case, the prophet is the
pastor of the church, and then the organization
is the Christian churches. At the end, they are totally
accepting this new religion, which is Christianity
in their case. And then now the Christianity
is a normal thing This one talks about the
Japanese colonial rule, how that their suffering
helped actually to push them to change
to Christian believers. And then even after
the World War II, the Christian
missionaries helped them to organize like education,
hospitals, and job training. And also especially in
1960s, by that time, Taiwan was changing already
with the Mandarin Chinese as the mainstream language. And therefore, anything
but Mandarin Chinese would be prohibited. And therefore when
you are living in a culture that
denies your origin, your self-esteem is
going to go down. And now some scholars will
call it a stigmatized identity. So the entire group of people
will have that kind of symptom. But in 1980s, the
indigenous people begin to voice in
the political realm. And that’s when they began to
feel more proud of themselves, and therefore they can go back
to their original culture, traditional culture. So from now on, this is
more based on my experience. So this is the Amis territory. So there are 16
indigenous people. So I stayed two
months around here. So Taipei area is here, and
I also went all over Taiwan actually, and I met lots
of different people. But now the indigenous
people united through the Christian beliefs. And so I was invited to
attend this Taiwan Aboriginal Pastorial Development
Association meeting on September 1st. Here is my friend now, he’s
pastor Enoch, and he’s Amis. And then this pastor
is from Taichung area, and she’s another– she’s Bunun, so here, Bunun. Oh, I’m sorry–
she’s Taiwan person. But she lived in Taichung. And so this group had about
five different ethnic groups represented– the Bunun, and the Amis, and
Taiwan, and also [NON-ENGLISH].. Yeah, I guess four. Actually a lot of Amis people
now are in a political area, active in politics. And he’s a congressman
from the Amis area. And so he also goes to this
church, and he’s prayed over, and the youth pastors
are prayed over. This chart shows
you about average of 70% of the indigenous people
are identifying as Christians. And so up to here,
up to [NON-ENGLISH],, they are recognized as
indigenous people during the Japanese colonial time– I’m sorry, up to Yami. And then from Tao to– I can’t pronounce
this name, but– so these indigenous people
are more recognized later on. And so there are a
lot of indigenous people still are not recognized. It’s because they’re
assimilated earlier on. They assimilated into
Han Chinese culture, and then it’s really
hard to prove. And if you can’t prove,
they cannot claim they are indigenous people. And so there are a lot
more actually, yes, like he mentioned. There are more
indigenous people, but they are not recognized
by the government. So I also attended
another gathering of the indigenous
peoples Christians– Taiwan First Nations Rise
Together Pentecostal activity. And again, these are
different denominations even. These are the Assembly
of God Church people. And so this outfit is the Amis. And this is the [NON-ENGLISH]. And this looks like Bunun. So again, they are playing
shofar, the ram’s horn. They often use this ram’s
horn in their worship service. That’s really something,
I thought, wow, this is different. Because I haven’t ever
really seen that ram’s horn, you know, in a Christian
church in the United States. And then at one point– these are the Han
Chinese pastors– and they apologized
that the wrongdoing they did, historically speaking. And then these are the
indigenous pastors praying over them. And also indigenous pastors
also apologized to them. And so they apologized
to each other for the wrongdoing
towards each other. Because they are enemies in
the past, long, long ago. Each tribal people were the
contained in the village. And so anybody
outside of the village are enemies, potential enemies. It was a very emotional moment. I was here. I took this picture. So as you can see, there
were so many people. And so I was actually here,
but I took this picture when I sneaked out for the
bathroom break or something. So I could really see it
from a different angle. This is my traveling experience. And this is Ilan County and this
is the [NON-ENGLISH] church. These are all
Presbyterian churches. And this is the Yu-Shan
Theological College and Seminary. And Dr. Tong used to be a
principal of this college. And he was one of my
mentors for this research. And this is Puyuma
from [NON-ENGLISH].. So Puyuma is the only
indigenous people among 16 who does not have the Bible
in their own language. Other indigenous people all have
the Bible in their language. And so she decided to become
a pastor about five years ago, so she went back to study
at the Yu-Shan Theological College and Seminary. And and so she became a
pastor for this church in order to revive the
culture, the Puyuma culture, before everything becomes just,
you know, Han Chinese culture. And these are two Amis churches,
and this is also Amis churches. But these two are near the
Taipei area, [NON-ENGLISH].. Actually, it’s near the airport. And this Amis church
is from Taichung. And these pictures are actually
from the amusement park, the indigenous amusement
park in Nantou around here. And this is Paiwan celebration I
was invited to in [NON-ENGLISH] around here. And so this is a
Paiwan tribe, and I was told that I should wear
the Paiwan queen’s dress, so I dressed up like that. [LAUGHS] So this is my first experience
with meeting with Amis people. And so this is
Kanjin Village near– this is Taipei City,
and then Taoyuan City. And it’s about one hour
by car to get here. And so she’s showing me the
bag here, something she made. And traditionally people
always had this little bag like that, the shoulder
bag, to put betel nuts. Do you know what betel nuts are? Let’s see. So here. It’s kind of small, but
these are betel nuts. And so betel nuts is something
that are very unique. It’s important part
of the Amis culture. And so they chew the fruit, and
then I guess it’s kind of sour, and it has the
same effect as when you smoke tobacco or something
like that, that kind of effect. But they use those
betel nuts even for proposal for the marriage. So they always carried
around the betel nuts. So they don’t carry
around betel nuts anymore, but it’s just a
traditional thing. This is actually the
pastor of this village. And Kanjin village
has 14 families. And actually he only went
up to junior high school. For his age, it’s a
common thing, you know, for the indigenous
people just finish up to the junior high school. So he can’t really
read and write Mandarin Chinese characters. And so he reads Bible
with a [NON-ENGLISH].. That’s sort of like
alphabets in a way– and also Amis language. And so he showed me he
is certified lay pastor, and he built his own church. And he said he dreamed about,
like he got this dream that God told me he needs to build
the church in his village. And so he went
through the schooling and he got the certificate. And so I asked him what
are those pictures. These are the pictures of
the orphans of Thailand that this church supports. And so I was with the scholars,
anthropologists, three of them with me helping me to interpret,
and we are all like, wow. This church doesn’t look
wealthy or anything, and yet they support these kids. Really? So they’re really into
overseas missions too. So we are so impressed. And so while he was talking all
these stories, he was crying, and we all became emotional. But anyway, this is
the Harvest Festival. I want to point out,
so he is [NON-ENGLISH],, the village leader. And so he leads this
traditional dance. But traditionally speaking,
all this event was opened by [NON-ENGLISH]. [NON-ENGLISH] is sort of like
a religious leader who is like a shaman in a way. But now [NON-ENGLISH] is
replaced with a Christian leader. A Christian leader
will have a prayer and so everybody is
bowing their heads. I asked him so who are the
Christians in your village. He said everybody. Everybody comes to this church,
except one family, he said. And one family, the husband is
Taiwanese and the wife is Amis. So they go to a
different Buddhist temple instead of his church, he said. So we were watching
this traditional dance. So she is the second
[NON-ENGLISH].. He is the fourth one,
and she’s second. And I’m having a good
time with her talking. It’s because a lot of
people speak Japanese. So that’s why. And so yeah, I had a really
a good conversation with her. The Presbyterian church
is the first missionaries went to Taiwan. Actually the Christianity
went to Taiwan in 17th century first by Dutch and Spaniards. But because of Koxinga
getting rid of the Europeans– the Koxinga is the Ming
loyalists, the Ming dynasty– so Christianity disappears. But in 19th century,
it comes back again. And so usually Mackay is
very, very famous in Taiwan. Because of the hospital– the Mackay hospital is
still really famous. And also he is the founder of
the Taiwan Theological Seminary and College. Although the current
location is newer. And so Ciwang Iwal, she is the
daughter of the Seediq chief. And in 1930, I mentioned,
the Wushe incident, Wushe rebellion. And there was a
battle between Seediq and the Japanese
colonial rulers– the same ethnic groups of
people, although they’re from different villages. Because in 1930s,
the people who fought against the Japanese
colonial rule, they all died from
those villages. She is the same ethnic group. She is the first person
to become a Christian among the indigenous people. And she is credited for
a lot of conversion. So this is the
description of her, “mother of the Taiwan
Aboriginal Faith or Mother of the
Mountain Church.” She is the key figure
for the conversion. And it’s because these
are the Seediq people who fought the longest against
the Japanese colonial rulers. And so they are fighters. They have the spirit
of the fighters. They’re not really
afraid of death or torture by the
Japanese colonial rulers. She used to say our Lord
is mightier than all the kings of the world. He was crucified, yet do not
forget that he rose again from the dead. And nobody can overcome him. She kept on repeating
that to her followers. She said welcome
the persecution, and then your true
faith will be tested. So this is her church. This is where she preached. And now the church
changed the name as the [INAUDIBLE]
Memorial Church since 1946. This is the year that
[INAUDIBLE] actually passed away. But the church building
was built in 1946 here. This is the Taroko Gorge area. This is between the plain
area and the mountain area. She lived outside
of the fenced area. Her friends who lived around
here, this gorge area, would walk days and
days to listen to her. This is the Taroko Gorge,
this kind of place. If you can see the people right
here, it’s really harsh nature. Those people walked
to listen to her. And because this is
such a treacherous area, the Japanese police
could not catch them. So at the end of
the World War II, the missionaries
found about 4,000 of the Christian believers. So this is the Fataan church. This is the church that
you saw on the poster. And it’s right here. This is Hualien county. This is the only Hualien
county, and all these black dots are the villages. So there are a lot
of Amis villages. And the Fataan church
is the largest church in Hualien county. And Tafalong is the second. And I also was invited to go
to the Tafalong chief house. He is also the elder of
this Tafalong church. In 1997, Amis Bible translation
was totally completed. Little by little they had it,
but after that, the church building started again. But around here there are
so many churches built. The Western missionaries called
this a 20th century miracle. But here during this
time Amis churches were not built because this
is the time, historically speaking, Nationalist
Party government, Kuomindang, did not
allow churches to use the languages besides Mandarin. So the Mandarin churches
is a different story, but the Amis churches, new
construction was not done. So this is the membership. So this is from 2016. As you can see, most of the
membership are kind of little, getting smaller. There are only six
churches about 100. And so the Fataan church
having more than 400 members– that’s really the biggest. So this is the Dong Hwa
University I stayed. And so I took the bus one hour
to get to this Fataan church. And so this is my footage
climbing up the hill, and here it is. These are the first
evangelists among Amis people. He is half-Taiwanese
and half-Amis and he married to Amis woman. This is a model of the
first church in 1946. This is after World War
II, after Japan left. Because the Republic
of China did not prohibit Christianity, but
the Japanese government prohibited it. Because that’s the
enemy religion. So they had to hide to worship. So they would pretend
like they were going to go to the
farmland and to cultivate. And then actually they’re
having a church, prayers, or like Bible studies
or something like that. But this original one was
destroyed by the typhoon. So they made the next one. This is pastor Son. The current pastor, Hannah, is
the daughter of this pastor. And he’s the Amis pastor. And he is considered as the
Billy Graham of the Amis tribe. And so he had very
eloquent speeches. And also he did a lot of– let me read this– so “the Christian
movement and power encounters against the Amis
traditional beliefs in 1950s.” So during his leadership, a
lot of Amis culture was denied. He denied everything,
not even clothing. So everybody had to
wear Western clothing. And he is actually the
son of the [NON-ENGLISH],, the village leader. And the mother was
[NON-ENGLISH],, the shaman. And he had a lot of relatives
who are shaman, [NON-ENGLISH].. So all these relatives
are complaining to him, like what are you doing
mean to our village people. So they would do that. OK, we have to test,
whose god is stronger? And a lot of times, without
him doing anything really, the other [NON-ENGLISH]
would say, OK, Jesus is stronger than my god
and so I’m going to change to Christianity. So that’s how they did. So this is 1955. And I wanted to see all the
believers, how it expanded. And then this is
just the youth, 1955. And 1956, just kids. And 1958. So it got bigger and
bigger and bigger. And so now, Fataan church
began to be called Jerusalem. So now the Jewishness comes in. So this is Pastor Idu. I was with his
widow all the time. Because he actually even
went to seminary in Japan. So he spoke fluent Japanese. So he used to have– until they had Amis Bible,
they used Japanese Bible. And what is this? Torii? Torii. This is a Japanese shrine– torii, right? So the pastor Son,
previous pastor, bought this former
Shinto shrine, and then built
their church here. So pastor Idu is
the one who continue the construction of the church. So they didn’t have money. So each church members
got the piglet, so each Amis had to
raise piglet, one piglet. And then after the piglet
became big pig, they sold it. And so that’s how
they made money. And that money was used
to build this church. And this construction was
bought by all the members. They built this. So they finished in 1965. And they also have a
lot of social care. So it’s really the church is
the center of the community. And in 1980s also
they employed more like a Pentecostal experience. They even built the fasting and
prayer, like a prayer mountain idea, and they would fast for
one weekend and just pray, that kind of thing. And during this time,
this church grew. At one point, they
had 1,000 members. These are the current pastors. This couple goes to
Israel almost every year and bring back the
culture with them. And so now their church
incorporate sort of like a Jewishness to it. And so these are all the people
who speak fluent Japanese. And this man, he
is 90 years old. And he served for
the Japanese Navy, and his ship sunk three times. He was the only survivor to
come back to this village. He felt like this
is because of Jesus, so he became a
Christian immediately. And he’s been with
this church forever. But as you can see, all the
members are kind of aging. So that’s the concern
right now for their church. So look at this
flag in the center. Yeah, right? Mm-hmm. And this is the regular worship
service shofar, the ram’s horn. I want to read this. So this is not the
pastor from this church, but he said, “the
Exodus story tells us that God stands
with the oppressed. These stories help us see
how Taiwan’s Aborigines have much in common with
the Children of Israel who served as slaves
in Egypt so long ago.” So this is sort of like
a sentiment among all the indigenous people. And so this is my conclusion. The colorfully costumed Amis
elders blow their shofar horns to celebrate the victory of
the physical and spiritual oppression given by the God of
Moses in the style of worship in the 21st century that
merges their Amis heritage with ancient Jewish traditions. And thank you. [APPLAUSE]

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