Taiwan’s eastern coast is home to several of the country’s indigenous tribes and no visit to Taiwan is complete without visiting the island’s indigenous people. The Amis people are one of Taiwan’s 16 officially recognized indigenous groups, their territory spanning from the Central Mountains to the Coastal Mountains and the Pacific coastal plain to the Hengchun Peninsula. Along the east coast you’ll find three groups of the Amis people all keen to welcome visitors into their world and happy to share their culture. Here are three Amis tribes you need to visit when you come to Taiwan. (Read more: Beauty in the east: five days on Taiwan’s east coast)
Located in Hualien county’s Fengbin Township at the mouth of the Xiuguluan River, the Ca’wi tribe is named after the Amis term for the flats in the cavity of a mountain. An area rich in natural resources, the locals here are talented fishermen with seafood being their primary source of food.
A popular activity for visitors here is bamboo rafting. Take to the Xiuguluan River with a local guide and enjoy the scenery including the surrounding mountains and the Long Rainbow Bridge.
Next, learn to fish like a real Ca’wi tribesman with an authentic eight-trigram net and be in awe at how smoothly the local fishermen cast their nets before having a go for yourself to see just how difficult it is. Finally, try your hand at shooting a traditional bow and arrow by taking part in an archery experience. (Read more: Indigenous Culture, not Food, is Taiwan’s Top Tourist Attraction)
Named after the local area’s strong connection with goats (“Siri” in Amis language means goat), in recent times, the Pisirian tribe has lost touch with its younger generations due to many of them needing to work away. As a result, many children are lacking care and cultural education, so the Pisirian people set up the PawPaw Drum initiative to teach young children about tribal culture and pass on songs in their mother tongue. In Amis, “PawPaw” means to float on the sea.
While visiting the tribe, you can watch a musical performance from the local youths and marvel as they proudly display their tribal heritage. They will also invite you to taste their local delicacies, including pumpkin, feta cheese and thorny onions, while make sure not to miss out on the locally-baked bread. More hands-on activities include an art walk and a woodcarving experience – the Pisirian are here to stimulate all of your senses! (You might also like: Language of love: indigenous R&B singer ABAO on Paiwanese music)
The Tafalong clan is an Amis tribe located in Hualien’s East Rift Valley. The friendly tribe invites visitors to cook, dine, and dance with them, offering guests an intimate experience to learn about the tribe.
Starting at the farmer’s market, the tribe introduces the locally grown produce used in their everyday diet. With the “mountains as their refrigerator,” guests can learn about the exotic vegetables used in the Amis cuisine and pick their own to cook at the tribe’s communal restaurant.
Guests will first learn to cook traditional snacks with red glutinous rice, the local specialty. Then, guests will be invited to watch a performance inside the tribe’s spacious hut before enjoying a feast with the entire community consisting of “Rice Roasted Chicken” (pickled chicken filled with wine and spices), fresh vegetables, soup, and of course, indigenous millet wine. End the night singing and dancing with the tribe, learning the tribe’s traditional dance. (Read also: Celebrate the beauty of the eastern coast at Taiwan East Coast Land Art Festival)
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