On the morning of August 1, Indigenous Peoples' Day, President Tsai Ing-wen delivered recorded remarks at an event marking the 27th anniversary of the government's rectification of the legal term used to refer to Taiwan's indigenous peoples. In her speech, President Tsai highlighted the accomplishments of each of Taiwan's indigenous athletes competing at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics, and expressed hope that as Taiwanese cheer on our Olympians, we can also take this opportunity to learn about the history and culture of indigenous peoples while appreciating their continued contributions throughout society. The president further emphasized that learning from and respecting Taiwan's indigenous peoples is the real meaning of Indigenous Peoples' Day.
A translation of the president's remarks follows:
Today is August 1, Indigenous Peoples' Day. Every year, on this day, we seek to highlight the rightful place of Taiwan's indigenous peoples in our society by remembering the history of efforts to change the official term by which they were known to one of their own choosing.
Over the past few days, many of our indigenous Taiwanese athletes at the Tokyo Olympics have turned in outstanding performances. And when boxer Chen Nien-chin (陳念琴) won her match, she looked right into the camera and proclaimed in her native language that she is "a child of the Amis tribe." That was truly inspiring.
We congratulate all of our athletes on their achievements. And on this Indigenous Peoples' Day, I want to emphasize that, in addition to sports, indigenous peoples have had great success in many areas, and should receive equal recognition. That is how we realize our goal of ethnic mainstreaming.
As this forum points out, indigenous peoples actively participated in and contributed to Taiwan's transition to democracy. Indigenous peoples have also achieved great things in government, industry, national defense, and on the front line of our pandemic response. These accomplishments should all be recognized and valued.
Over the past years, we have promoted historical and transitional justice for indigenous peoples. The Council of Indigenous Peoples has published a series of books on the history of Taiwan's indigenous peoples. The Ministry of Education has added indigenous perspectives to the national primary and secondary school curriculum. And the Ministry of Culture has encouraged museums large and small to curate exhibitions that display the diverse cultural heritage of Taiwan's indigenous groups.
These initiatives are a continuation of the efforts of indigenous leaders who, on August 1, 1994, succeeded in having the constitution amended to rectify the official term for indigenous peoples and leave behind the stigma attached to that discriminatory label.
Many groups and organizations have also taken part in this year's Indigenous Peoples' Day by holding a wide variety of activities. Notable among them is the Hakka Affairs Council's Tribute to Indigenous Peoples, a series of events promoting mutual understanding among ethnic groups.
So while we cheer on our athletes from indigenous communities, we should also learn about their history and culture, and appreciate the contributions that indigenous peoples make across society.
Learning from and respecting Taiwan's indigenous peoples: this is the true meaning of Indigenous Peoples' Day.