First government document written in indigenous language

Members of the Amis tribe the first to receive a government document written in their native language

First government document written in indigenous language in Taiwan was released in Hualien

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The first government document written only in an indigenous language was released recently in Taiwan's eastern county of Hualien, officially implementing the bill passed in May designed to revive endangered languages of the country's 16 aboriginal tribes.

Residents in Guanfu Township, Hualien received a government document this month which was written in Amis, an aboriginal language spoken by the largest tribe in Taiwan. The residents first thought it was English until they read it aloud and realized it was their mother tongue written in the Roman alphabet, CNA reported.

Elder members of the community in the villages and tribes who can only speak the indigenous language used to go to the township office to ask for the translation of the Chinese announcement. But now they can not only read it themselves, they also feel a sense of empowerment when receiving the documents.

Guanfu Township officials has worked very hard on translating the written document into the Amis indigenous language. The government invited several indigenous language teachers and leaders of the tribes to conduct the research together, discussing how to write the official letters in their mother tongue, according to the official of the Hualien Indigenous Peoples Department Hsu Hsiu-chen (徐秀珍).

Guanfu Township has already published three official documents written in Amis. Two of them were written in both Amis and Chinese in order to enable the younger generation who cannot read the indigenous language to understand the content with the parallel texts.

Under the bill passed on May 26 and announced by President Tsai Ing-wen, local governments in 55 aboriginal townships, cities and districts will be allowed to publish official documents in indigenous languages, not just in the country's official language of Mandarin Chinese.