Introduction


Blessed with distinctive geographic features, spectacular mountains and rivers, and beautiful landscape, southern Taiwan has long been the birthplace of Taiwan's indigenous peoples, including the Tsou, the Hla'alua, the Kanakanavu, the Bunun, the Paiwan, the Rukai, the Makatto, and the Siraya. Tribes which settled and developed here have acquired an intimate knowledge of agroecology and environment management science echoing the contemporary attitude toward environment conservation. We can learn indigenous peoples' land ethics and lifestyles and realize how they live in harmony with all God's creation and with the planet by feasting our eyes on the lush sacred trees on Ali Mountain and the sea of clouds covering the Dawu mountain range, or enjoying the solemn traditional festival Mayasvi of the Tsou and the five-year worship Maleveq of the Paiwan. Unfortunately, modern colonialism, industrial revolution, global economy, and national policies are endangering the cultural treasures cherished by Taiwan's indigenous peoples.

Over the past two decades, issues related to indigenous peoples have been given priority in political, cultural and academic circles since the rise of Taiwanization and multiculturalism, with a boom in indigenous cultures, arts, music, movies, architecture, history and literature. However, such fervor failed to support tribal rebirth and cultural regeneration. In recent years, more and more people in Taiwan go on trips at their leisure, and remote tribal villages, of course, are the destinations of choice for relaxation for urban residents. Moreover, after the national policy of taking two days off per week became something of a ritual, tribal villages become absolute musts for all lovers of travelling and recreation. However, indigenous peoples, unexpectedly, are caught in a thorny dilemma: the more tourists come, the more pollution and damage to the environment they create. Traditional festivals, gorgeous buildings, beautiful music, eye-catching clothes and tribal delicacies cannot bring prosperity to tribes. On the contrary, lovely tribes are still marginalized and economically disadvantaged under Taiwan's asymmetrical social and economic environment.

Located near the confluence of tributaries of Gaoping River, I-Shou University is the traffic hub on the foot of the mountain range in Kaohsiung and Pingtung areas. As the distance of the University from the remotest indigenous township in southern Taiwan is less than 80 kilometers, the University is considered being situated in the geographical center of tribes in southern Taiwan. Over the past thirty years, the University has numerous talented indigenous graduates, thus playing an important role in the social and economic development of indigenous peoples. As the educational heartland in southern Taiwan, the University aspires to nurture theoretical knowledge and practical skills of communication and design as well as tourism and hospitality in indigenous students in the hope of backing up the regeneration of tribes.