Indigenous group asks government to return property to aborigines

Indigenous group asks government to return property to aborigines
Bird's eye view from the Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County, Taiwan.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Members of Absoundtrack, a club formed by indigenous students who study at National Taiwan University (NTU), protested on campus yesterday, demanding the school return Mei-feng Highland Experimental Farm and two Taiwan red cypress trees in Nantou to indigenous people.

According to Absoundtrack, indigenous people are not satisfied with the school for taking two fallen Taiwan red cypress trees from Nantou to Xitou Nature Educational Area, since these trees were found in an area with a history of indigenous stewardship and therefore belong to them. NTU should not transport the trees without permission, Absoundtrack said.

In addition, Absoundtrack also stated that the Executive Yuan is going to implement a new policy for managing indigenous reserves, enabling indigenous people to claim their proprietary rights over some public lands that were once stewarded by their ancestors.

After tribes successfully avail themselves of the policy, lands like those in Nantou will be converted into indigenous reserves. As the result, NTU should return Mei-feng experimental farm in Nantou County to indigenous groups.

Hu Zhe-hao, a member of Absoundtrack who spoke at the protest yesterday, suggested that the school should invite more experts from different fields to join in the management committee for indigenous resources.

Hu continued by saying that although the school formed a management committee to deal with these issues, the school chose committee member who are unrelated to indigenous groups and may not understand the importance of preserving indigenous culture and lands. Even if some members are indigenous people, they are working as government servants and may be limited in how much they can express their own opinion.

Therefore, Hu advised the school to invite some professors from anthropology, sociology and other related fields to form a better management committee.

Responding to the protest, NTU president Yang Pan-chyr  stated that the school will deliberate further with these students and offer some possible solutions to their requests to sort out the problem.

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