Despite advances in health care across Taiwanese society, a major health crisis persists in rural areas—Taiwanese Indigenous people continue to die much earlier and suffer from mental illness at higher rates than the general population. One central element of Indigenous wellbeing overlooked in policy discussions in Taiwan is the interest of the Indigenous population in their own traditional healing practices. Taiwanese Indigenous groups want to revive a collective understanding of their traditional medicine to both heal and to inform others of the importance this knowledge has to their lives.
In this project, Brendan Ross interviews Indigenous health advocates and traditional practitioners to explore traditional medicine’s evolving role among Taiwan’s diverse community of nearly 600,0000 Indigenous people. Ross examines how Indigenous groups navigates questions of community and public health, understand their historical relationship to biomedicine, and see their own connection to traditional and institutional medicine change over time. The reporting considers Indigenous engagement with both Taiwanese government health programs and their own community-based traditions, and it seeks to identify individual moments of resistance, resilience in times of upheaval, and renewal.
How have Indigenous groups seen their relationship to traditional medicine and biomedicine change? What stories and lessons do they hope to pass on and protect regarding their traditional healing cultures? By seeking answers to these questions, this project gathers voices of different health practitioners and scholars and places them into conversation to help readers understand essential and overlooked elements of Indigenous wellbeing that can resonate far beyond Taiwan.