Indigenous participation in the Sunflower Movement oftentimes cited the effects that the CSSTA would have not only on Taiwan’s Han (漢) residents, but be particularly acutely felt by Taiwanese indigenous (原住民). Indigenous would obviously feel the effects of the CSSTA as residents of Taiwan and, in fact, Taiwan’s only original residents. But indigenous still face disproportionate conditions of lagging development in their communities and social conditions. Some, then, saw the CSSTA as something which would continue the history of colonial violence against Taiwanese indigenous, in line with effects of FTAs on indigenous peoples the world over.
Members of the Indigenous Youth Front at the occupation encampment surrounding the Legislative Yuan on March 26th. Photo credit: Indigenous Youth Front/Facebook
At times, Han participants in the Sunflower Movement made it a point to seek out indigenous participation, as seen in NewseForum asking indigenous filmmaker and activist Mayaw Biho to write a take on the Sunflower Movement from an indigenous perspective for them. Noted indigenous singer-songwriter Panay was also a performer at the Legislative Yuan occupation. Reportedly, Panay was one of the first invited performers, but she asked that the organizers allow less famous and less experienced performers to play first before she did, eventually performing shortly after the use of police violence against students during the attempted occupation of the Executive Yuan on 324.
During the tumultuous events of 324, a contingent of indigenous students attempted to storm the Control Yuan, either in an attempt to escalate the events of the night or because of miscommunication about which building was being occupied, before later relocating to the Executive Yuan. Likewise, a soapbox discussion on indigenous issues was held in the encampment surrounding the Legislative Yuan during the course of the occupation. One of the major participating indigenous youth groups was the Indigenous Youth Front (原住民族青年陣線), which organized a soapbox discussion on indigenous issues on-site.
Indigenous causes had been participated in by Taiwanese youth activists prior to the Sunflower Movement and this continued afterwards, with high-profile Sunflower Movement activists such as Lin Fei-Fan (林飛帆) supporting the later push to reclaim indigenous traditional territories led by indigenous activists who had participated in the Sunflower Movement such as Panay and Mayaw Biho. The discourse of “indigenous independence”, calling for self-determination of indigenous communities, also began to be increasingly discussed in tandem with general greater discussion of various visions of Taiwanese independence following the Sunflower Movement.
Namoh Nofu Pacidal participating in a “Big Bowel Blossom Forum.” Photo credit: Indigenous Youth Front/Facebook
We may also note that, as a particularly vulnerable group in Taiwanese, indigenous in the past hewed to political support for the KMT. Namely, even if the KMT was the source of indigenous oppression, it was still a stabilizing force in Taiwanese society and many older members of f Taiwan’s precarious racial groups, including indigenous and Hakka (客家人), supported the KMT over the DPP with the view that the KMT was more stable, could at least maintain stable relations with China, and feared the potential backlash of benshengren (本省人) nationalism. But at a certain point, indigenous young people began to break from this, joining together with their Han counterparts to oppose actions of the KMT. This was notably the same generation of indigenous which took a strong interest in their indigenous roots, whereas their parents were individuals who may have converted to Christianity and strongly disavowed indigenous traditional culture.
As such, indigenous participants in the Sunflower Movement notably came into conflict with the Council of Indigenous Affairs regarding the Council of Indigenous Affairs claiming that the CSSTA would not affect indigenous, because indigenous primarily worked blue collar jobs rather than in the service sector. Likewise, the Council of Indigenous Affairs asked indigenous not to spread false views about the CSSTA. Indigenous participants of the Sunflower Movement were consequently angered by the Council of Indigenous Affairs not only seeking to deceive indigenous, but acting as a platform for the KMT government to spread its views.