Vol. 7, No. 1 (2011): 123–142.
The Bunun are one of the indigenous groups of Taiwan that have a rich history of living in the high-mountains. The region of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu) was once a group of mountain villages and among the last frontier areas to be annexed into Imperial Japan in Taiwan. The remoteness of the region, coupled with the late arrival of Japanese forces, afforded the Bunun children of that time to have a lifestyle, where they participated in and observed their indigenous way of life. This research is an oral ethnography of Langus Istanda, born in 1920, remembering first hand the arrival of the Japanese police and experienced the forced extradition of her family from their region. The research finds that the informant’s childhood memories are generally positive, inasmuch as she tells stories of games, adventures, a safe and comfortable environment, and a sense of wonder for the modernity of the Japanese culture; yet her memories move to a negative tone regarding the forced relocations and the period of illness and death of friends and relatives. The research indicates that the Laipunuk Bunun have endured constant pressure from external forces and, as a direct result, have undergone acute social, cultural, and linguistic degradation from the loss of their native homelands. This study contributes to an understanding of the value of cultural resource management by providing an objective and comprehensive record for future generations; it opens a pathway to Laipunuk and Bunun epistemology in the English language. Ultimately, the study proved to be mutually beneficial to both researcher and participant, offering extensive source of information as well as a sense of reconciliation to the Bunun elders; it represents the resilience of Bunun heritage.
Steven Andrew Martin is a lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies and Eastern Civilization for the Faculty of International Studies at Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Campus. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, a Master of Arts from National Chengchi University in Taiwan, and a Master of Business Administration from Prince of Songkla University. He has formal education and teaching experience spanning 20 years which includes schools, universities, governments and public health organisations.