Plains indigenous peoples
|Taiwanese indigenous peoples|
Plains indigenous peoples (Chinese: 平埔族群; pinyin: píngpuzúqún; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Pêⁿ-po͘-cho̍k), previously called plain aborigines, are Taiwanese indigenous peoples originally residing in lowland regions, as opposed to Highland indigenous peoples. Plains indigenous peoples consist of anywhere from eight to twelve individual peoples, rather than being a single ethnic group. They are part of the Austronesian family. Beginning in the 17th century, plains indigenous peoples have been heavily influenced by external forces from Dutch, Spanish, and Han Chinese immigration to Taiwan. This ethnic group has since been extensively assimilated with Han Chinese language and culture; they have lost their cultural identity and it is almost impossible without careful inspection to distinguish plains indigenous peoples from Taiwanese Han people.
Plains indigenous peoples have not been officially recognised by the Taiwan government, apart from the Kavalan. It was not until the mid-1980s that plains indigenous peoples started gaining interest from historians and anthropologists, leading to increased public attention to this group. Various anthropological studies have emerged in recent years arguing that circa 85% of Hoklo and Hakka Taiwanese are actually descendants of plains indigenous peoples through intermarriages with Han immigrants. This is still an ongoing debate and has been used as political leverage to promote Taiwan independence and ethnic consciousness. An increasing number of Hoklo and Hakka are beginning to search for plains indigenous bloodlines in their genealogy, and many are starting to claim themselves as plains indigenous peoples. These indigenous groups are currently continuing to fight for their identity, rights, and recognition as Taiwanese indigenous peoples. In 2016, the Tsai Ing-wen administration promised to grant official recognition to the plains indigenous peoples, and a draft bill is being reviewed by the Legislative Yuan as of June 2018.
In The Island of Formosa (1903), former US Consul to Formosa James W. Davidson presented the first English-language account of the indigenous peoples of the whole island, which was almost entirely based on the comprehensive work collected over several years of study by Ino Kanori, the foremost authority on the topic at the time. In Ino's eight-group classification, the Pepo, Puyuma, and Amis groups were known as "domesticated savages" (Japanese: 熟番, Hepburn: jukuban), primarily due to their abandonment of ancient customs. Of these three groups, only the Pepo lived in the western plains where they remained to compete with the Chinese settlers (the Puyuma and Amis inhabited the eastern plains).
The term Pepo (Chinese: 平埔; pinyin: píngpǔ; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: pêⁿ-po͘; lit.: 'flat plain'), referred to indigenous peoples that resided in the Formosan plains, rather than the highland mountainous regions. Plains indigenous peoples mainly settled in the west and central mountain regions of Taiwan. The term Sek-hoan (熟番; shúfān; se̍k-hoan; 'well-cooked/familiar savages') was also used to describe plains indigenous peoples because they often lived closer to the coast and had more interaction with Dutch and Han Chinese immigrants, hence were more assimilated and civilised than highland indigenous peoples. Mention of plains indigenous peoples have appeared in Qing texts dating back as early as 1764. In summary, the Pepo were those plains indigenous peoples who could still be easily distinguished from the Chinese, whereas the Sek-hoan had already thoroughly adopted Chinese customs, thus exhibiting no trace of their "ancient life".
The Dutch, who had ruled Taiwan for 38 years, have left an imprint on the Plains Aborigines. The Sinkang manuscripts have become important historical documents for studying the Plains aborigines, which are bilingual land contracts written in Romanised letters. This Romanised tribal language was instructed by the Dutch commissaries in order to teach Christianity. Nevertheless, the Dutch influence on the Plains aborigines has been limited to language and religion, reaching merely around Tainan area. Only the influence of the Han Chinese has been far and long standing.
In the 17th century, plains indigenous peoples were involved in the flourishing deerskin export market. Plains indigenous hunters often supplied deerskin to the Qing and Dutch regimes, in exchange for cash to trade for other goods and also to pay for taxes enforced under the new regimes. By the 18th century, the deerskin industry had largely diminished due to overhunting, and the inflow of Chinese immigrants began to take up much of the grazing land. Therefore, plains indigenous peoples increasingly relied on plow agriculture and land rent from indigenous land reclaimed by Han settlers.
Han settlers initially implemented policies that favoured plains indigenous peoples. This was because Han officials feared a revolt against Chinese immigrants, and also because plains indigenous peoples were tax-paying citizens and could be used as military sources. Furthermore, the Chinese government initially viewed their expansion as a disruption to the indigenous people status quo, hence they introduced policies to favour plains indigenous peoples. However, plains indigenous peoples were increasingly not able to compete economically and ethnically with the growing Chinese population that flooded to Taiwan. Han policies in favour of plains indigenous peoples began to disappear. Han settlers started to disintegrate many of the plains indigenous peoples from their original villages. It is within these “political and economic frameworks” that the plains indigenous peoples gradually became sinicized.
In the course of their interaction with the Han Chinese, some Plains aborigines moved to Puli Basin; the Kavalan tribe moved southward to Hualien County and Taitung County; and the Siraya tribe moved to Taitung. However, relocation could not prevent the Plains aborigines from being assimilated. After the Qing Empire had officially taken over Taiwan, the Plains aborigines were rapidly sinicized as a result of advocating the civilising, chiaohua, of the indigenes. They were forced to dress in Han clothes, change their names and receive Han customs.
Plains indigenous peoples began to adopt aspects of Chinese culture, values, and language. Most importantly, intermarriage between Chinese and plains indigenous peoples increased rapidly, leading to the acculturation of plains indigenous peoples with Chinese. Many of the early Chinese settlers in Taiwan were not permitted to bring women with them; hence they married plains indigenous women out of necessity. This is the origin of the common saying “there are mainland grandfathers, but no mainland grandmothers” (Chinese: 有唐山公，無唐山媽; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Ū Tn̂g-soaⁿ kong, bô Tn̂g-soaⁿ má). This extensive intermarriage is the reason that many Taiwanese people today are unaware that they could be descendants of plains indigenous peoples. Several theories have been proposed during the 2000s, to suggest that a large majority of Hoklo and Hakka Taiwanese could have plains indigenous lineage in their bloodline. An increasing number of Taiwanese are starting to search for their plains indigenous roots and claim their status as plains indigenous peoples.
Plain Indigenous Peoples Recognition Movement
After centuries of acculturation, plains indigenous peoples are almost completely sinicized. It was already noted in the early 20th century that careful observation was required to detect their deeper eyes as compared to the Chinese; also, the women did not practice foot binding. It is now nearly impossible to distinguish plains indigenous peoples without careful inspection. Through the process of acculturation, much of the language, culture, and identity of plains indigenous peoples have become non-existent in modern Taiwanese society. The Republic of China government currently only officially recognises one (Kavalan) of all the plains indigenous peoples.
Even though there was a lack of attention and interest in the history of plains indigenous peoples until the mid-1980s, through the works of scholars, folklorists, anthropologists, historians, and remaining descendants of these groups, there has been a gradual restoration of plains indigenous culture, history, identity, and language. For example, a descendant of plains indigenous peoples in Hualien, Chieh Wan-lai, still insists on teaching the traditional language and culture of his ethnic group. More educational pamphlets are emerging to teach Taiwanese people about the existence of plains indigenous peoples. Furthermore, a campaign was started in Yilan County for descendants of the Kavalan to find their roots. Many plains indigenous ceremonies have been revitalized around Taiwan, and these have been opened up to the public and to people who have recently discovered their status as plains indigenous peoples.
Ethno-political activities and Nativist Cultural Movements flourished after the 1990s, and a “Plains Aborigine Name Correction Movement” (Plains Indigenous Peoples Recognition Movement) emerged. Several protests occurred in 2001 and 2010, and a formal complaint was sent to the United Nations in 2010, demanding that the ROC government formally recognize plains indigenous peoples. Descendants of these groups today continue to fight for the official recognition of their status as Taiwanese indigenous peoples.
Through the efforts of indigenous people, Tainan County became the first local government to recognize Siraya people as county-level indigenous people in 2005, followed by the recognition of local Taivoan, Makatao, and Siraya people by the Fuli Township government in 2013. In 2016, the Pingtung County government announced the recognition of local Makatao. The plains indigenous peoples have been allowed to register in Kaohsiung City since 2013 but have not yet been recognized as city-level indigenous peoples. The number of people who have successfully registered, as well as ones to whom the Kaohsiung City government has opened registration but who haven't yet been recognized as of 2017, are as follows:
Plains indigenous peoples have been classified under different systems throughout history. The Dutch separated plains indigenous peoples by regions and differentiated them by communities (社名). Huang Shujing, during Qing rule, categorised all Taiwanese indigenous peoples into thirteen groups, based on geographic location.
It was not until Japanese rule that proper anthropological and ethnographic classification systems of plains indigenous peoples were formed. The Japanese studies revealed that plains indigenous peoples were not one culture, but in fact consisted of various ethnicities, languages, and cultures. The Japanese extensively studied Taiwanese indigenous peoples in order to classify, locate, and "civilize" them.
Ethnographer Ino Kanori was the first to create the modern ethnological classification of plains indigenous peoples, consisting of the following groups: Makattao, Siraya, Loa, Poavasa, Arikun, Vupuran, Pazehhe, and Kuvarawan. Since then, other scholars such as Shigeru Tsuchida, Utsurikawa Nenozo, Mabuchi Toichi, and Ogawa Naoyoshi have presented various classification systems for plains indigenous peoples. There is still no full consensus over whether there are eight, nine, ten, or twelves groups of plains indigenous peoples. The major disputes consist of:
- Whether Arikun and Lloa should be classified separately or as one ethnic group.
- Whether Ketagalan should be further divided into separate groups.
- Whether Siraya, Taivoan, and Makattao are separate groups or part of one group. However, based on the latest discovery in linguistics, the three ethnic groups should be separate indigenous peoples.
- Whether Sao are plains indigenous or highland people.
|1991||Li, Paul Jen-kuei||Kavalan||—||Ketagalan||Babuza||Hoanya||Pazeh||Thao||Siraya|
|1996||Li, Paul Jen-kuei||Kavalan||Qauqaut||Ketagalan||Kulon||Baburan||Hoanya||Pazeh||Thao||Siraya|
|2006||Li, Paul Jen-kuei||Kavalan||—||Basay (Ketagalan)||Kulon||Taokas||Papora||Babuza||Hoanya||Pazih||Thao||Makatao||Siraya||Taivoan|
|Peoples||Early settlement locations|
|1. Ketagalan||New Taipei, Keelung, and Taoyuan|
|2. Kavalan||Lanyang Plain|
|3. Kulon||Taoyuan and partial New Taipei City|
|4. Taokas||Hsinchu, Miaoli, and the northern region of Tachia River in Taichung|
|5. Pazeh||Fengyan, Tantzu, Shenkang, and Houli and later spread into Shihkang, Tungshih, and Hsinshe|
|6. Papora||Coastal plains to the south of Tachia River in Taichung|
|7. Babuza||Southern region of Tatu River and the northern region of Choshui River|
|8. Hoanya||Southern region of Wufeng in Taichung and the northern region of Wufeng in Taichung as well as the northern region of Hsinying in Tainan|
|9. Siraya||Tainan and Kaohsiung|
|10. Taivoan||Tainan and Kaohsiung|
|11. Makatao||Kaohsiung and Pingtung|
Hunting, fishing, and agriculture
Before the arrival of immigrants, plains indigenous peoples lived a simple lifestyle based on agriculture, fishing, and hunting. They produced just enough for their needs. Taros and yams were important in their diets. They used simple tools such as sticks and spades for growing food; to hunt, they used traps, spears, and arrows; to fish, they used nets, baskets, and arrows. Men were usually in charge of fishing and hunting, while women were responsible for farming roles. The Plains aborigines have once owned extensive space for agriculture and hunting. They solved their disputes by means of betel-nuts treats, apologies or fights. They led a life of self-sufficiency without restriction and suppression from outside regulations or foreign armies. For a very long time, before the arrival of the Han Chinese, the Plains aborigines only used simple agricultural tools, such as sticks and spades, to plant millet, taro and yam. And they only produced what they required for living. Without knowledge of fertiliser, they always found new lands to plant when the land was exhausted. In addition, they still lived on primitive ways of fishing and hunting. The hunting methods included traps, spears and arrows. And they used nets, baskets and arrows for fishing. Usually, women were responsible for farming, while young men took on hunting and fishing jobs. Their hunting targets were mainly deer and wild boars. There were regular seasons for hunting deer and it was prohibited to hunt young deer, in order to maintain the ecological balance. When the Dutch occupied Taiwan, they have taught the Plains aborigines farming skills and administered a policy of breeding farm cattle. They indirectly ruled the indigenes and managed the land cultivation. After the improvement of farming skills, the Plains aborigines changed their crop into rice. This happened more obviously to the southern tribes that had earlier contacts with foreigners. The northern tribes still planted millet mostly until the early Qing period.
Plains indigenous peoples were based around a matriarchal society: women were often the head of the family and in charge of important household affairs. Men usually lived with their wives after marriage, serving the wife's family in the form of hard labour. Females inherited property and passed on lineage. Women were usually in charge of religious issues and men were responsible for political issues. But since the Han culture slowly infiltrated, the marriage and lineage of the Plains aborigines had started to change and turned into transitional modes. One was a completely Han fashion. The other was a transitional mode integrating the original matriarchy with the Han customs. A woman married into her husband’s family without receiving any betrothal money gift, and her husband had to help her family in farming. Moreover, even a woman was married she still had the right to inherit the property and shared responsibility for the debts or funeral costs.
With a tendency toward matriarchy, female had a higher status in the clan system. But in the tribal system, male seemed to be superior. Prior to Sinicization, the Plains aborigines took the tribe as unit and selected their own leaders. The public affairs of the tribe were the core. The eldest male was the leader of the tribe. The rule was the leader of the tribe. The rule of elders was the characteristic of the tribal system. Elders were responsible for attending the tribal meetings, and among whom a chieftain was selected to lead and command. The elders meetings functioned to solve disputes inside the tribe and external wars, as well as major issues and ritual affairs. The political centre of the tribe is kunghsieh, where all the single males co-inhabited, taking orders from elders and learning history and culture of the tribe and skills in hunting and fighting. Generally speaking, the singles were in lower status. The single Plains aborigines were free to choose their spouses. There were certain parties where young singles could choose their lovers freely, or they could date individually in private. When a single boy was in love with a girl, he would be playing his mouth-organ day and night in front of the girl’s house. And if the girl also liked the boy, they would have a date, giving each other and engagement gift. This was far different from the matchmaking of the Han society.
Although women had higher status in the clan system, in the tribal system men were superior. Tribes were treated as a singular, collective unit. Leaders of the tribes were chosen based on seniority: the oldest member of the tribe became the leader. The elders were responsible for attending community meetings, at which a community chief was chosen to lead the community. The elders were also responsible for solving internal and external disputes.
Plains indigenous peoples held ritual ceremonies several times a year, to worship natural and ancestral spirits. They strongly believed in the worshiping of ancestors. Whenever a ceremony was held, the people would gather in the political centre of the tribe called kunghsieh, and they would drink, sing, dance, and celebrate. Their ballads were mostly merry melodies until the mass invasion of the Han Chinese and their culture was on the verge of diminishing, and then they started to create elegies to express the sadness of a disadvantaged people.
During the Qing period, numerous coastal Chinese of the mainland risked their lives to sail to Taiwan for the sake of survival, regardless of the sea prohibition policy of Qing government. At that time, most Plains aborigines were assimilated. Their villages (she) mingled with villages of the Han Chinese, resulting in their land loss. At first, the Han Chinese still paid the land rent, but as they gained stronger power, they stopped to pay or even bought off the rights. Moreover, the Han Chinese was good at plundering indigenes’ lands by purchase, alliance, marriage, forced occupation, or exchange of irrigation sources. Sometimes, they even took advantage of indigenes’ drinking habits and cheated on the contracts. The Plains aborigines thus yielded their living space and scatted elsewhere. Since 1701, the fallow lands and hunting places of the Plains aborigines had gradually become the farm lands of the Han Chinese, which caused gigantic changes in their economic life, social system and features. Those who refused to migrate were slowly assimilated into the Han society, and those who relocated could not avoid the oppression from the Han people or other indigenes and had to move again.
Now, the Plains aborigines are mostly sinicized. They speak fluently the languages of the Han people. It is hard to distinguish them without careful inspection of their looks. The early Han Chinese that came to Taiwan was mostly single males, who usually took aboriginal wives. In terms of genetics, the present Taiwanese people are more or less inheriting some Plains aboriginal blood. Yet, as traditional customs and languages have almost died out, few people are aware that they are offspring of the Plains aborigines.
Since the 1990s, as the ethno-political activities and the Nativist Cultural Movement have flourished in the island, descendants of the Plains aborigines have also started to demand Name Correction and joined the Alliance of Taiwan Aboriginal Constitution Movement. The Kavalan descendants, such as Chieh Wan-lai, did not only endeavour to teach traditional language and culture in Hualien, but also cooperated with Yilan County Government to organise a campaign for the Kavalans to search their root in Yilan in 1991 and held a Kavalan Harvest Festival in 1993. In addition, the Ketagalan tribe in the north held several cultural activities in 1994 and 1996. Moreover, the descendants of Siraya, Taokas and Pazeh have also tried to re-establish and pass on their traditions and cultures. Compared to their ancestors’ meek submission a hundred years ago, today’s Plains aboriginal descendants are awakening relatively and willing to rewrite their own history.
In spite of their considerable culture and linguistic differences, the Formosan Plains Austronesians shared a common geopolitical culture in the seventeenth century. This culture manifested itself most materially in the physical structure of Formosan villages, which were protected by plant defenses or bamboo or wooden walls. Such defenses could be elaborate. In 1630, for example, inhabitants of the village of Mattau built “a sturdy double wall around their village, the inside filled with clay, as well as a moat and many demi-lunes.”
Surnames were an integral part of plains indigenous culture. Through the process of acculturation, plains indigenous peoples gave up their naming systems and original surnames in favour of adopting Chinese surnames. In the process, several unique surnames were created in conjunction with indigenous influences; these differed from Hoklo and Hakka surnames.
Some of the unique surnames include: 月、邦、宜、機、翼、力、卯、茆、同、念、東、岩、哀、曷、埕、買、猴、標、紅、雙、角、楓、詩、樟、墜、雛、乃、味、毒、陣、盂、解、棹、永、湖、振、偕、嘪、掌、奚、詠、倚、竭、北、六、水、麗、崗、崑、桌、牙、陀、秘、烏、新、糠、長、萇、霜
Complaint to United Nations
In 2010, representatives of plains indigenous peoples in Taiwan sent an official complaint to the United Nations in Geneva; the complaint outlined the unfairness caused by plains indigenous peoples not being formally recognised under the current Republic of China administration. The representatives of the complainants demanded for the groups to be recognised formally as Taiwanese Indigenous People and Austronesian. The complaint was rejected by the United Nations. As a result, a dedicated committee under the name 'Pingpu Affairs Task Force' (平埔族群事務推動小組) has been created by the Executive Yuan to deal with plains indigenous issues.
Plains indigenous genetic studies
Genetic studies conducted by Dr. Marie Lin (林媽利) of Mackay Memorial Hospital in 2001, 2008, and 2010 concluded that despite only 1.5 percent of Taiwanese people being registered as indigenous, there is a strong possibility that over 85% of Taiwanese have plains indigenous bloodlines. Lin's research was based on the study of human tissue antigens (HLA) of Hoklo, Hakka, and plains indigenous peoples. Through hundreds of years of assimilation and intermarriage between Han Chinese and plains indigenous peoples, there is a high possibility that genetically, the Hoklo and Hakka bloodlines in Taiwan have been fused with plains indigenous bloodlines.
A doctoral candidate named Chen disputes the results of Lin's genetic testing, arguing that there are several statistical inconsistencies in her research, which has led to an unreliable conclusion. For example, Lin's 2000–2001 research showed only 13% of Taiwanese haplotypes were of indigenous roots; however, in 2007 the figure was recorded as 52%. Chen also pointed out that Lin’s research overestimates the amount of plains bloodline in Taiwan, because a test subject only needed to have one out of the three plains genes identified by Lin to be classified as plains indigenous. Chen went on to argue that the continuation of Lin's trials would lead to the eventual conclusion that 99.99% of Han Chinese in Taiwan have plains roots.
Lin has responded to Chen's criticism by first pointing out that the disparity between the 13% figure and the 52% figure is derived from the two being conducted using two different methodological approaches: the former using the older methodology (serology), and the latter using the more advanced and precise DNA methodology that became available as science progressed. In addition, the disparity is enlarged by the former only examining the genetic similarities or differences between pure indigenous peoples and Hakka/Hoklo, and the latter adding other ethnic groups, such as Southeast Asians (Polynesians) and other Asians. Thus, the 52% figure was never intended in Lin's account to be a representation of the amount of Taiwanese plains genes within the Taiwanese population, rather, the figure encompasses everything from Taiwanese plains genes to other non-Han Chinese ethnic groups.
Moreover, Lin maintains that test subjects indeed only need one out of three genes to be identified by descent, since the question at hand is about whether the majority of Taiwanese have ancestry other than Han-Chinese, similar to how the majority of Native Americans in the States have been infused with white blood, or to a certain extent culture, and acquired Anglo features. They nonetheless maintain their ancestral roots and identify themselves as the nation's first people.
However, despite the fact that Lin's response directly addresses the criticisms posed by Chen, the press has only been concerned with how Lin briefly speculated about Chen's motives for arguing against her study: that they are derived from Chen’s relationship with Mainland China's Fudan University. As a result, Chen was able to portray Lin as having chosen to avoid his criticisms of her work. In Lin's response, she pointed out the fact that Chen, as a former student of hers, has been guilty of academic dishonesty in the past, having presented Lin's discoveries as his own.
Despite a popular media backlash, Lin continues to stand by her research and has since published an academic text in 2010 titled "We have different bloodlines". In this text, Lin continues to argue that Taiwanese people are descendants of both Han Chinese and plains indigenous peoples.
Lin's research has been used in recent years to promote the Taiwan independence movement and to build an independent Taiwanese identity. Activists have used Lin's findings to argue the view that Taiwanese people are not descendants of Han Chinese but rather descendants of plains indigenous peoples; therefore, Taiwan should remain fully independent from mainland China.
Taiwanese "blood nationalists" have tried to claim Plains ancestry in order to promote Taiwanese independence and to try and claim an identity different from that of mainland Chinese. However, this position has faced political strain. Taiwanese people who have been relatively untouched by Chinese colonialism (Gaoshan) have felt the responsibility to preserve their cultural uniqueness and ancestry, and often despise their counterpart (Pingpu/Plains peoples) who have suffered racial and cultural assimilation by claiming indigenous status.
Moreover, within the Taiwanese Han Hoklo community itself, differences in culture indicate the degree to which mixture with indigenous peoples took place, with most pure Hoklo Han in Northern Taiwan having almost no admixture, which is limited to Hoklo Han in Southern Taiwan.
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