Tour Guide: World Summit of Indigenous Cultures

IT contributor Erica Schlaikjer will be attending the World Summit of Indigenous Cultures, and offers an invitation to anyone else able to attend.

For those of you traveling to Asia this month, consider attending the World Summit of Indigenous Cultures, which will be held in Taiwan from April 12-17. The two-day conference and subsequent three-day tour of the island’s indigenous areas aims to bring together a diverse representation of the world’s indigenous peoples — from artists to government leaders — to discuss the intersections between cultural heritage, globalization, and the environment.

The conference‘s formal list of speakers includes people from the Philippines’ Kalinawa Art Foundation, Australia’s Seed Savers’ Network (via video presentation), and the Taiwan Indigenous Enterprise and Economic Development Association (TICEDA). They’ll be exploring these themes including:

  1. Indigenous environmental wisdom and protection of the earth’s environment;
  2. Indigenous belief systems today; and
  3. Developing indigenous enterprise.

The tour, which follows the conference, will explore social interactions in Paiwan and Rukai villages, make a visit to a “hunting school” in Taitung and a wetlands conservation project in Mataian, and discover the intricacies of the Pasibutbut, a harvest song of the Bunun tribe that is known for its complex harmonies (you can watch a video of the song here).

Conference organizers say, “Our greatest wish for this summit is to voice our concerns for the earth. We hope to remind people of endogenous peoples’ harmonious connections with the earth and their accumulated and enduring knowledge of our environment.” (Read the full invitation here.) Why Taiwan? Well, it’s got at least 13 tribes, which lived on the island way before the European colonizers and Chinese Nationalists arrived. And some scholars believe Taiwan is the birthplace of the Austronesian people, who live from Madagascar to the Philippines.

Philip Diller, director of international affairs for TICEDA, one of the organizers of the conference, says he hopes the event will be more like a “pow-wow” than a scholarly forum. “It’s very organic,” he says of the planning process.

If you are interested in participating, send an e-mail to Diller or the international invitation coordinator, Cheryl Robbins. For other networking opportunities, there’s also a Facebook group and event listing.


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  1. Shane - The Tokyo Traveler
    April 9, 2008, 7:16 am

    This sounds like it will be a great event with lot’s to see and learn.