Typhoon Morakot on August 8, 2009 had seriously damaged about ten tribal villages of Paiwan ethnic group in Taitung County, south-eastern Taiwan.
The Council for Culture Affair of Taiwan entrusted a project to the Community Empowering Society for community empowering and culture recovery of every damaged village. Every village from July 2010 to June 2012 has a full-time staff member and about 20 thousand American dollars for operating during this period. And the National Science Council supported National Taitung University to underground an integrated project of participatory action research with these indigenous communities from August 2010. The author manages both projects, and leads a working team including a cultural professional and a research assistant.
For these traditional tribal villages had been moved many times during 1930s to 1970s by Japanese government and later by Chinese government (Republic of China), the traditional tribal society had broken into fragments, even their language and culture had been endangered. At first, I proposed and explained the tribal nation concept. Then, we work with each other to investigate the tribal map, migrating history, clan pedigree and legends of every tribal village. The author, two assistants, and ten community empowering staffs met every week for sharing experience, deep discussion, solving disputes, learning knowledge, and cooperating with each others. After one year, half of staffs had administrative and financial ability for community. They also had built up confidence to work with opinion leaders to recover or reorganize the tribal village society via historical identification, nature resources of territory, common benefit, etc. Among these villages, one developed a famous ecotourism route and one newly found organic farm. But the work or mission of tribal village based sustainability is not always smooth going in our case. We suggest we need further time to make progress.