A Taiwan knowledge keeper of indigenous Bunun – An ethnographic historical narrative of Laipunuk (內本鹿), southern mountain range

A Taiwan knowledge keeper of indigenous Bunun – An ethnographic historical narrative of Laipunuk (內本鹿), southern mountain range

Asst Professor Dr Steven A Martin

Assistant Professor of Asian Studies in Sociology and Anthropology

NEW RESEARCH WITH SAGE PUBLISHING AND ETHNOGRAPHY

Faculty of International Studies | University News

Tama Biung Interview with Nabu Istanda

Abstract

This paper offers an ethnographic life history account of a Bunun hunter, Tama Biung Istanda, from Laipunuk, Taiwan, based on academic research and fieldwork. Audio-visual tapes recorded by the author in Taitung County, Taiwan, were reviewed and translated alongside extant Chinese, Japanese and English sources. The study constructs a remembered life into readable coherent sequences on behalf of an indigenous peoples, many of whom now seek international recognition as part of their struggle for essential entitlements such as land rights, access to traditional hunting grounds, and other natural, legal, and cultural resources. The testimony of Tama Biung Istanda, translated into English and summarised here for future generations, provides a compelling new source of data on the Bunun heritage that can help to assist knowledge for the local and scholarly community and cultural resource management practices.

Keywords: Bunun, ethnohistory, hunting, Japanese Colony of Taiwan, Laipunuk or Neibenlu (內本鹿), Taiwanese (Formosan) indigenous peoples

Figures 1-7

Click on images to enlarge.

Figure 1: Bunun at the Asahi Police Station, Laipunuk 1933

Figure 2: Map of southern Taiwan featuring the Laipunuk watershed

Figure 3: Map of Laipunuk villages, the Japanese cordon trail and police stations, and the 2006 Bunun root-searching expedition across the Central Range

Figure 4: Remains of the Japanese police station cordon trail above the Lu Ye River, Laipunuk

Figure 5: Interview setup with Nabu Istanda (left), Langus Istanda (informant’s sister, centre); and Biung Istanda (right).

Figure 6: Ethnohistorical Narrative Research Flow Chart

Figure 7: Tama Biung Istanda (1917-2007) Taiwan knowledge keeper of indigenous Bunun | Laipunuk 內本鹿 Nei Ben Lu

References | Ethnography journal format

  • Adawai JP (2020) Taiwan. In: Mamo, D (ed) The Indigenous World 2020. Copenhagen: Eks-Skolen Trykkeri.
  • Binkinuaz T (Tsai SS) (2006) Laipunuk Bunun Tribal Migration Before 1942. Master’s thesis, National Chengchi University, Taipei. (in Chinese).
  • Brown M (2004) Is Taiwan Chinese? The Impact of Culture, Power and Migration on Changing Identities. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Campbell WM (1903) Formosa Under the Dutch. Taipei: SMC Publishing Inc. 2001.
  • Chu H (2010) Disciplining and Cultivating the Colonized: Literary Representations of Ethnic Relations between Japanese Policemen and Taiwanese People. Journal of Taiwan Literature Research 10: 117 – 148. (in Chinese).
  • Council of Indigenous Peoples (2020a) National Aboriginal Population by Nationality and Age. (in Chinese). Available at: www.apc.gov.tw/portal/ (accessed 15 May 2020).
  • Council of Indigenous Peoples (2020b) Online Dictionary of Indigenous Ethnic Languages (in Chinese). Available at: e-dictionary.apc.gov.tw/Index.htm (accessed 15 May 2020).
  • Davidson JW (1903) The Island of Formosa Past and Present. Taipei: SMC Publishing Inc. 2005.
  • Fang C (2016) Transforming Tradition in Eastern Taiwan: Bunun Incorporation of Christianity in their Spirit Relationships. Doctoral dissertation, Australian National University, Canberra.
  • Huang YK (1988) Conversion and Religious Change among the Bunun of Taiwan. Doctoral dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science, London.
  • Huang YK (2001a) Lost Laipunuk: Outside social and across tribal boundaries. Journal of Eastern Taiwan Studies 6: 139–172. (in Chinese).
  • Huang YK (2001b) Taitung County history - Bunun Zu. Taitung County: Taitung County Government. (in Chinese).
  • Huang YK (1995) The ‘Great Man’ Model Among the Bunun of Taiwan. In Austronesian Studies Relating to Taiwan (eds.) Li, P, Tsang, C, Huang, Y, Ho, D, and Tseng, 57–107. Taipei: Academia Sinica.
  • Langness LL and Frank G (1981) Lives: An Anthropological Approach to Biography. Novato, CA: Chandler and Sharp Publishers, Inc.
  • Lee H and Cho Y (2012) Introduction: Colonial Modernity and Beyond in East Asian Contexts. Cultural Studies 26(5): 601–616.
  • Li PJ (1988) A comparative study of Bunun dialects. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology (BIHP) 59(2): 479–508.
  • Li LL (2018) A Grammar of Isbukun Bunun. Doctoral dissertation. National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.
  • Linde C (1993) Life Stories: The Creation of Coherence. Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Martin SA (2006) Ethnohistorical Perspectives among the Bunun: A Case Study of Laipunuk Taiwan. Master’s thesis, National Cheng-Chi University, Taipei.
  • Martin SA (2011a) Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu)—the Last Frontier of the Taiwan Aborigines During the Japanese Occupation on Taiwan: Ethnographic Narratives of a Bunun Elder. The International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies (IJAS) 7(1): 123–142.
  • Martin SA (2011b) Rebuilding Mama’s House—An Ethnohistorical Reconstruction and Homecoming of the Bunun on Taiwan. Journal of International Studies 1(2): 61–78.
  • Martin SA (2020a) Ethnographic film and Bunun oral history in southern Taiwan. Available at: StevenAndrewMartin.com/ethnographic-film/ (accessed 15 June 2020).
  • Martin SA (2020b) Tama Biung Istanda Ethnography Laipunuk 內本鹿 Taiwan. University Filmworks. Available at: YouTube.com/TamaBiung (accessed 15 June 2020).
  • Martin SA (2014) Contextualizing Island Formosa Through Cultural Heritage, Digital Mapping, And Museology: A New Trial for the Journey Home to the Bunun Villages of Old Laipunuk, Taiwan. Paper presented at the 2014 International Conference on Formosan Indigenous Peoples: Contemporary Perspectives, 15–17 September 2014, Taipei.
  • Martin SA and Blundell D (2017) Cultural Continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), Southern Taiwan. In Religion, law and state: Cultural Re-Invigoration in the New Age, (eds.) Chang, H and Mona, A, 215–246. Taipei: Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines.
  • Mao LC (2003) East Taiwan View. Taipei: Yuen-Ming Wen Hua. (in Chinese).
  • Neihardt JG (1932) Black Elk Speaks. New York: William Morrow & Co.
  • Palalavi H (2006) Bunun: the Origin of Tribes and the History of Tribal Migration. Taipei: Council of Indigenous Peoples. (in Chinese).
  • Poyer L and Tsai F (2019) Wartime Experiences and Indigenous Identities in the Japanese Empire. Journal of Military and Strategic Studies 19(2): 41–70.
  • Radin P (1913) Personal Reminiscences of a Winnebago Indian. Journal of American Folklore 26: 293–318.
  • Savage PE and Brown S (2014) Mapping music: Cluster analysis of song-type frequencies within and between cultures. Ethnomusicology, 58(1) (Winter 2014): 133–155.
  • Simon S (2005) Paths to Autonomy: Aboriginality and the Nation in Taiwan. Unpublished paper. Ottawa: University of Ottawa.
  • Simon S (2006) Formosa’s First Nations and the Japanese: From Colonial Rule to Postcolonial Resistance. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 4(1): 1–13.
  • Simon S (2012) Politics and Headhunting among the Formosan Sejiq: Ethnohistorical Perspectives. Oceania 82(2): 164–185.
  • Sturge K (2014) Translation Strategies in Ethnography. Translator 3(1): 21–38.
  • Tsai F (2011) From Dulan to New Guinea. Taipei: Yushangshe. (in Chinese).
  • Yang SY (2005) Imagining the state: An ethnographic study. Ethnography 6(4): 487–516.
  • Yang SY (2011) Cultural performance and the reconstruction of tradition among the Bunun of Taiwan. Oceania 81(3): 316–330.
  • Yang SY (2015) The Indigenous Land Rights Movement and Embodied Knowledge in Taiwan, in Social Movements and the Production of Knowledge. In Body, Practice, and Society in East Asia (ed.) Hirai, KE, 25–43, Senri Ethnological Studies 91.
  • Yeh J (1995) The Migration History of Bunun in Kaohsiung County: the Reasons of Migration and the Change of the Concept of Settlement. Master’s thesis, National Taiwan University, Taipei. (in Chinese).

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank David Blundell, Elizabeth Zeitoun, and the two anonymous reviewers for helping me further my argument. Special thanks to Nabu Istanda and Tommie Williamson (1955-2017) for the years we shared during this project.

2005 Field Research

Nabu Istanda teaching an Amis student at Mamahav village in Laipunuk 內本鹿 Nei Ben Lu | 2005

Steven Martin and Dahu Istanda below Mamahav village in Laipunuk 內本鹿 Nei Ben Lu | 2005