Atayal’s hunting culture

Atayal people is the third largest people of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. Taiwan’s indigenous peoples are consist of 16 nations, all together they are around half a million people. Of this half a million, Atayal people constitutes 16%, that is, around 86 000 persons.

Hunting is an integral part of Atayal’s culture. Many of the elders in my village are fearless hunters. I learn later in life that there are some basic principles (see this video) of hunting, such as:

(1) You cannot fight with your wife before hunting

(2) You have to know to whom this hunting area belongs. You can only hunt in your own hunting field (game field).

(3) You are not allowed to hunt in the mountains during Spring and Summer. One can only do fishing during Spring and Summer.

There are two ways to do fishing. One way is by using Sruyu (or sguyu). Sruyu (sguyu) means fish trap in Atayal language. The elders often make sruyu (sguyu) from bamboo, you can see this video (from 2:45) to know roughly how it is made. By the way, Yutas means elder male and yaki means elder female in Atayal language.

Another way is to shoot fish with self-made bamboo spears, often you dive into the water with goggles around your head. We call fish shooting as mu qulih and goggles as skita.

(4) You should form a game group (from 3 persons up to 30 persons) during Autumn and Winter to go hunting. There are three ways of doing hunting in the mountains:

The first way is gmalup (in Chinese 圍獵, it means hunt the animal with dog and poke it with hoku spear). The best wood to make the spear (hoku in Atayal language) is gesa, because gesa wood is very strong.

The second way is using arrows or gun. The third way is using traps–the most traditional method.

(5) A ceremony should be held before you go hunting in accordance to the Atayal’s traditional rituals (in Atayal gaga). It is important because you are blessed by the ancestors by doing so.

It is to be noted that in both hunting practices (in the mountains and in the rivers), Atayal people only hunt those fish/boar that are big and mature.

Atayal’s culture is closely linked to our identity and language. This aspect should be seen and respected in education. The literature shows that multicultural curriculum is crucial for Atayal students’ learning motivation. It is difficult for schools to practice mulicultural curriculum because the schools do not have enough budget and staff.

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