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Hmali’, rgrgyax and Gaga: a study of Tayal elders reclaiming their Indigenous identities in Taiwan

Wasiq Silan, Mai Camilla Munkejord

2022 Taiwan, Asia

This article examines how older Tayal, an Indigenous people in Taiwan, regain, reclaim and renegotiate their identities by reconnecting to Hmali’ (the Tayal language), rgrgyax (mountains) and Gaga (the Tayal Law). A critical qualitative design informed by Tayal hermeneutics was used. In total, 14 bbnkis (elders) were interviewed, and the data were thematically analysed. The aim of this article is to contribute to the ongoing revitalization processes in Taiwan. Such revitalization processes often tend to reinforce the quest for authentic Indigenous identities, as if indigeneity could be reduced to a pale reproduction of how things used to be in the old days. Our findings show that indigeneity is not about returning to a fixed past. Instead, it is about writing back against the colonial framework that was imposed on the Indigenous peoples and, in that way, healing from trauma.

elders, indigeneity, Indigenous identities, Taiwan, Tayal, well-being