Thursday, October 15, 2009

Indigenous TV in Taiwan and the losses and gains in moving from an oral culture

What have maori gained and lost by moving from an oral culture to a more written culture?

Taiwan's Indigenous people have a TV station too.

"Taiwan's indigenous people are the island's earliest masters, with ancestors on the island for thousands of years. They harmoniously sought to co-exist with nature on this land, working as the sun rose and sleeping when the sun settled each day. Living in rhythm the seasons, they inhabited the areas both near the mountains and the water, for generations inheriting the language, culture and traditional sacrificial offerings handed down to them.

Taiwan's masters gradually lost their stage of life as groups from abroad moved in. They were forced to share this beautiful land with people from the Netherlands, the Ming Dynasty's Cheng Ch'eng-kung, the Japanese as well as the immigrants from the Ch'ing Dynasty. Because of the strength of these cultures entering Taiwan, the indigenous people's culture rapidly disappeared, and they had no choice but to learn the languages and cultures that in fact did not belong to them.

Taiwan's indigenous residents expect to be understood, appreciated, respected and really be treated fairly, not to be isolated and viewed as a minority group.

Now, media is modern society's fastest way to build communication bridges, taking advantage of its power, grasping its explanatory powers, and enabling society's weaker groups to pursue equality and justice. Often, Taiwan's indigenous people are in many ways the weakest politically, economically and within the society. They need to expand themselves within the environment around it, through its own television media, reversing their weak position and to return its lost status, its mother tongue and the culture that has diminished over time.

While indigenous societies' talents remain inside, they realized that without important media power, they will have no voice. Therefore, after so many years of hard work, Taiwan Indigenous Television was proudly established on December 1, 2004, and in the beginning of 2005, it started production along with broadcasting programs and frequency channel tests. After a half-year of preparation and testing, Channel 16, the first “indigenous television station” in Asia started broadcasting on July 1, 2005. With this, other stations such as Taiwan Television and the Eastern Broadcasting Company one after another joined in this effort to start building the foundation."

And isn't this interesting. maori were an oral people and after colonisation we took up the written word. We have gained much but what have we lost? Can an oral people keep their oral traditions alive in a modern society. Are we still keeping our oral traditions alive? Do we still have wananga to teach whakapapa? To teach the art and skill to learn orally instead of with the written word? I know it is paradoxical because i am writing this even as i think it but we need to consider this just as the taiwanese indigenous people have. This is one of their solutions.

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