Magazine, March 2003
Chih-yu brings Taiwan's Aboriginal villages to TV
Ken Chih-yiu (根誌優)
is a Taiwan success story. He came from a poor family, but
has been able to build a career for himself as a tour operator,
head of a publishing company, and TV producer and host.
is for "In Search of Taiwan's Aboriginal Villages"
(台灣部落尋奇) that Ken is best known. Each week, the show
highlights different aboriginal villages, explaining their
history, current cultural makeup, tourist attractions, residents
and ecological features. Ken is working not only to increase
awareness of Taiwan's Aborigines, but also to complete Taiwan's
most exhaustive survey on the history and culture of the
island's indigenous people.
a member of the Saisiyat tribe (賽夏族) from Nanjhuang
Township in Miaoli (苗栗南庄), recalls: "As a
child, my grandfather took me hunting and to work
in the fields. He also taught me how to weave baskets
and told me stories of the history of the Saisiyat."
to his family's tight financial situation, Ken was
forced to leave Nanjhuang at the age of 16 to find
work. On visits back to Nanjhuang, he started asking
the elderly people what they knew of its history.
"I realized that, if I didn't start recording
their knowledge, Saisiyat culture might well disappear,"
has applied that same logic to Taiwan's other tribes to
create his popular show. Over the past seven years, Ken
and his crew have visited more than 300 of the island's
500-plus aboriginal villages. His work has caught the attention
of Discovery and National Geographic.
check French, Spanish, Dutch and Japanese histories. But,
we don't rely on these records. We go to the villages and
talk with the people there to check, double check and triple
check every piece of information before anything is put
on the air," says Ken.
is probably one of the most knowledgeable people in
Taiwan about the migrations of the various tribes,
saying this knowledge has been gained by going into
villages and asking elderly people about their settlement’s
history: "I gain bits and pieces of information
from each person I talk to, then I put these pieces
says that, when he first began producing his show,
he was not always welcomed in the villages, despite
being an Aborigine himself. "Some of the people
in the villages were afraid that I would sell them
or their culture out. They didn't trust me. But, once
the show had been on for a year or so, people understood
that my goal is to provide the most genuine portrayal
of Aboriginal life in Taiwan," he recalls.
build trust, Ken says he completely respects the way of
life in every village. "I sleep where there is a space,
sometimes on the floor or in a church. I eat what the people
in the village eat. And, in that way, I really learn about
each village." In addition, getting to some of the
remote villages sometimes requires hiking deep into thick
forest, or along narrow mountain precipices.
is willing to put himself at risk to produce his show because
he understands its importance: "If Aborigines do not
use the media to allow the public to understand them, the
public will never have an accurate impression of Aborigines
or understand the importance of preserving their culture."
For such reasons, Ken is planning to continue his quest
to record an essential facet of Taiwan's culture.
Search of Taiwan's Aboriginal Villages" airs on ETTV's
variety channel (東森綜合台) on Saturdays from 6-7pm.