colonial-era documents to push case
EYEING RECOGNITION: Though most were aware that
they were Pingpu, Kaohsiung residents applied for copies of old household
registrations as hard proof
By Hua Chia-lin / Staff reporter, with staff writer
In a bid to push the government to declare the Pingpu as the nation’s 15th
official Aboriginal tribe, about 50 residents of Greater Kaohsiung’s Liouguei
District (六龜) early last month obtained copies of their family’s household
registration records from the Japanese colonial period as a proof of their
“This is my great-grandfather, and this is my grandfather,” a resident said,
pointing to a copy of a household registration documents.
Under each name was the character shou (熟), which implies that a person is a
The residents were tracing their ancestral roots because they have not forgotten
who they are, said Chang Yin-lai (張銀來), president of the Laonong Association for
Substantial Development of Pingpu Culture.
Chen Chao-hung (陳昭宏), a supervisor at the Liouguei District Community
Empowerment Station, who initiated the appeal, said he began to study Pingpu
history when attending graduate school and he discovered that household
registration documents from the Japanese colonial period have very detailed
information — including the ethnicity of each person recorded.
He said Hakkas were marked with the character guang (廣), Hoklos with fu (福),
Pingpu with shou, while other Aboriginal groups were marked with sheng (生).
The ethnic marking guang referred to Guandong Province, China, to which most
Hakkas in Taiwan can trace their ancestral roots, fu referred to Fujian
Province, China, while whether to classify an Aboriginal group as sheng or shou
depended on how “civilized” the ethnic group was, according to the standards of
the colonial authorities.
According to Chen’s research, though the government allowed the registration of
ethnicity from 1956 to 1960, many Pingpu did not do so since the policy was not
well known and there was a lot of discrimination against the Pingpu at that
time. Failure to register their ethnicity led not only to the loss of rights
attached to Aboriginal status, but also the decline of Pingpu culture.
Chang said that, though most of the residents were aware that they were Pingpu
since childhood, they had applied for copies of the household registration
documents as hard proof of their ethnicity, which they could pass on to their
Ou Ming-yi (歐明義), director of Liouguei District Household Registration Office,
said that according to documents from the Japanese colonial period, as many as
3,800 of the district’s 14,136 residents are Pingpu, adding that the documents
have been digitized and are available to the public.
Those who would like to see their family records may do so and each copy costs
NT$15, Ou said.
The term Pingpu (平埔) is a Hoklo term that means “plains,” and it is used to
refer to Aboriginal groups who inhabited the plains of western Taiwan, as
opposed to those who lived in the mountains.
The Pingpu in Liouguei are Makatao and while some believe the Makatao were an
independent tribe, others consider them a sub-tribe of the Siraya.