BYU Asian Studies Journal


Sabrina Wong


BYU Asian Studies, Taiwan, indigenous, colonialism


Taiwan can be found about 100 miles off the southeastern coast of China in the Pacific Ocean. It consists of a main island and many smaller surrounding islands. Before the arrival of the Dutch, the only inhabitants of the island were the Taiwanese indigenous peoples, also known as the Formosan people, Austronesian Taiwanese people, or Gaoshan people, who had been there for thousands of years. For consistency, throughout this paper, I will refer to them as Taiwanese indigenous peoples. The Taiwanese indigenous peoples are made up of different tribes, traditionally with over 26, 16 of which are recognized today by the Taiwanese government. Each tribe had its own governing system, so there was no central government in their society, and their lifestyle was based on hunting and gathering, as well as fishing. Taiwan’s climate is tropical, with mountainous terrain in the eastern part and plains in the west and traditionally, each tribe lived in different areas, and a tribe’s land was divided into territories, which included sacred grounds, farming grounds, and hunting grounds (Stephens, 2018).