Awi Sapu, Revitalizing Culture

I am Awi Sapu.  I am also known as Wang Chia-hsun.World Indigenous Tourism Summit 2018. Awi Sapu, Taiwan. Photo by Mark Coote.

I’m from the Seediq tribe which is the 14th tribe of Taiwan. I grew up in my tribe which is in Alang Tongan, on the western side of Taiwan. I lived there until I finished primary school.

I moved to Nantou County for my secondary schooling and then to Taichung, Western Taiwan, for university study. I finally returned to my tribe 12 years ago after graduating from university.

Since I’ve returned home, I have been working closely with my people to revitalize and preserve my culture.

I do everything that helps with achieving this goal, including seeking advice from elders, running language classes, building traditional houses, organizing cultural performances, taking tours, growing our traditional crops and showcasing our traditional cuisine.

I currently serve as the Board Director of Alang Tongan Industry Promotion and Development Association of Ren’ai Township, Nantou County and the CEO of Taiwan Indigenous Community Revitalization Culture and Education Foundation.

These roles enable me to better serve my people.

What motivates you to do the work you do?
The diminishing of traditional tribal knowledge, the need to adjust tribal development to the changes caused by the climate change; reflection on the relationships among people; nature; the land and the tribe; and the lack of young generation living in our tribal area; all these factors motivate me to work on these projects that benefit my people.

What has been the biggest challenge in preserving your culture?
The biggest challenge has been finding innovative ways to manage a sustainable, tribal, cultural and economic development.

How has tourism benefited your culture and community?
Tourism has created employment and built confidence for our people which helps our tribal identity. It is a mutually beneficial relationship.

You spent time with weavers in your town, do you yourself weave?
Yes, I am proud to say that I can weave.

What is the best thing about your town?
The attitude, perseverance and passion of our people towards to revitalizing our culture is the best thing in our tribe.

What does your culture mean to you?
It’s nutrient which helps me to grow.

How has sharing your indigenous knowledge impact your culture?
Sharing our indigenous knowledge is a platform for us to demonstrate who we are, it reduces misunderstanding and increases understanding global.

Why is learning and implementing programs of sustainability so important to you?
It helps tribal revitalization and creates opportunities for sustainable development. This is the entire goal and purpose of what we are trying to achieve.

What will you take away from the summit?
The Summit opens my views in the area indigenous tourism. I learnt many good practices from whanau participants which increase my confidence in the work I’m doing with my people.

Last words, Mr Sapu?
I want to thank the Summit organizers for giving me the opportunity to share my stories.

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