Pingtung aborigines set to establish indigenous millet
Aborigines in Dawu Village in Pingtung County will establish a story house to help people learn about the cultivation of foxtail millet, a grain considered by many archaeologists to be deeply embedded in Taiwan’s indigenous culture.
The story house is intended to give people a glimpse of their millet culture through exhibits that show in detail the planting, harvesting and processing of the culturally important millet, the villagers said.
The husked seeds of foxtail millet and millet cakes are symbols of prosperity and commonly given as gifts in various ceremonies, Dawu residents said, and grain motifs are also found on many utensils.
Beyond seeing the story house as a center for preserving important characteristics of Taiwan’s indigenous culture, the community also hopes it will emerge as a tourist attraction to boost the local economy, which is still struggling since Typhoon Morakot devastated the area in August 2009. Dawu is one of only two aboriginal villages in Wutai Township in Pingtung County where residents were not relocated after landslides and floods triggered by the typhoon buried or destroyed many villages in the mountainous area. In addition to an exhibition area, the story house will also feature restaurants serving millet dishes and souvenir shops.
The area is also trying to revive foxtail millet as an economic crop.
With the help of National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, the 100 or so aborigines living in Dawu have started planting foxtail millet and the medical herb Chinese Angelica Root (Angelica sinensis).