Indigenous Taiwan: Traditional Knowledge Navigating Modernity

November 05, 2018

Making up less than two percent of Taiwan’s total population, Taiwan’s 16 recognized indigenous tribes daily navigate the pressures of modernity while maintaining their traditional cultures and traditions. Contemporary indigenous people must make a living, maintain their language and culture within the dominant Han culture, and deal with the negative impacts of mass tourism and environmental degradation. Despite these challenges, many communities retain strong cultural practices tied to their traditional knowledge, customs, and beliefs. In addition, indigenous pride and self-determination has blossomed in the last 20 years with even Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, proudly noting her Paiwan heritage.

The speaker recently spent 3 months living in several indigenous communities learning about their traditional cultures and the modern pressures confronting these tribes. Join us to learn more about the Daowu, Paiwan, Rukai and Atayal tribes and the significance of Taiwan’s indigenous communities in Taiwan’s history and culture.


Michael Jacobson first went to Taiwan in 1986, returned in 1994-5, and recently spent 3 months living in Taiwan’s indigenous communities. For 30 years he pursued and finally rescued two Daowu fishing boats called tatala from a restaurant in Seattle and recently went to Orchid Island to learn about contemporary Daowu culture. Michael works for the King County (WA) Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget and is national award-winning expert in organizational performance management.


Monday, November 5, 2018


SFU Burnaby
Academic Quadrangle
AQ 6229
8888 University Drive, Burnaby

Please register here.

  • SFU David Lam Centre
  • Taiwan Studies Group, Department of History