Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
The 920 km2Taroko National Park, originally established as the Tsugitaka-Taroko National Park by the Japanese in 1937, is one of Taiwan’s prominent tourist attractions. When tourists visit the marble gorge, the mysterious Swallow Grotto, or Chinese-style temples and pagodas, most remain oblivious to the fact that they are on indigenous territory. The Truku communities of Skadang and Xoxos were displaced from their mountaintop farms in 1979 to make room for the national park that was re-established in 1986. For those people, the creation of the Taroko National Park was an important threshold event. Some still resent local elites who, armed with inside knowledge about the establishment of the park, claimed aboriginal reserve land in order to subsequently sell usufruct rights to the central government. Some regret selling land, saying that the ancestors punished those who did so by causing family members to die or get injured in traffic accidents. A minority held on to their land title, making the difficult journey by foot to continue farming. Now that Taiwan is moving toward indigenous self-determination, these tenacious individuals are using eco-tourism to promote Truku political identity and legal autonomy, while earning extra income. This paper, borrowing Dorothy Smith’s methods of institutional ethnography, is based on on-going research in this community since 2005. Through mapping, it examines the Truku relationship with the Taroko National Park, the NGO and individual householders promoting eco-tourism, and the informal networks of hunters and trappers who continue to organize forest space according to traditional practices.