The Ministry of Culture and the Hualien County Government jointly held a ceremony on Dec. 3 at the old Bunun community of Chiaxin (佳心), marking the restoration of a traditional slate house under the Reconstruction of Historical Scenes project along the Lakulaku River (拉庫拉庫溪) in eastern Taiwan.
Nearly 100 people lined up to walk along the rugged trail for two hours from Walami Trailhead to Chiaxin to attend the ceremony, demonstrating their passion for the preservation of cultural heritage. Among them were many who left the indigenous community in tears about half a century ago, only to return with joy for the Dec. 3 event.
Officiating the ceremony, Deputy Culture Minister Hsiao Tsung-huang explained how the "Reconstruction of Historic Scenes" project is one of the policy guidelines promoted by the Ministry of Culture in recent years. "In the past, Bunun culture was systematically discarded. Nowadays, it is systematically reconstructed" for the purpose of connecting old traditions with contemporary society, and "helping young Bunun people recover their confidence and courage to carry forward their tribal culture in a changing world."
The stone house reconstruction project is comprised of a series of tasks, including systematical field investigation of the old Bunun community in the Lakulaku River basin and reconstruction of the original cluster of slate houses, surrounding land once used to farm millet, and ancient trails that connected the community to the outside world.
Through coordination and joint efforts of scholars and specialists from different professional fields, the Bunun people can now re-establish relations with the land of their ancestors and carry on the intangible cultural heritage, knowledge, and practice that the Bunun tribe had developed from living off the mountains, forests, and streams over the centuries.
Directed by the Ministry of Culture and sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Hualien County Government and the Center for Austronesian Culture of the National Taitung University, the root-searching journey of the Bunun tribe was implemented based on the viewpoints of contemporary Bunun people, reflecting the project vision of "people being the principal part of culture."
It has proven to be a unique multidisciplinary project that has mobilized interest and resources from agencies including the Yushan National Park Administration, Forestry Bureau, Indigenous Peoples Department of the Hualien City Government, and Zhuoxi Township Administration, and joint efforts of professionals from the fields of ethnology, architecture, archaeology, slate house construction, and geographic information systems (GIS).