From Rekai to Labelabe: Disaster and relocation on the example of Kucapungane, Taiwan

  • Sasala Taiban I-Shou University
Keywords: natural disaster, indigenous, reconstruction, vulnerability, Morakot


The long-standing interdependent relationship between indigenous peoples and their land includes a community’s life experiences, material culture and collective memory. Once they are removed from their ancestral living space and traditional territory, livelihoods as well as interpersonal relationships are difficult to maintain. History has shown that relocation not only affects space, productivity and social structure, but it also has effects on cultural preservation. After the 2009 Typhoon Morakot, the Taiwanese government relocated three indigenous villages: Dashe, Majia, and Haocha, to an area of about 30 hectares. At present the area, now christened Rinari, has a total population of approximately 1,500 people and is the most populous indigenous community in Taiwan. Using the Rinari community’s Haocha Village (Kucapungane) as a case study site, this paper examines conflict and social vulnerability as it is brought about by relocation. In the case of Kucapungane, this is not the first time that the village has been relocated, and many resettlement policies appear to be constructed around the same notions as earlier relocation efforts: the government continues to believe that simply providing indigenous disaster victims with a safe place of residence is sufficient. Our research suggests that relocation methods should be reviewed, and due consideration be given to land, culture, education, and economic livelihood issues in newly established areas. Policies that determine fundamental considerations and make use of detailed assessments to carry out practices may minimise the negative impacts of relocation and resettlement on indigenous cultural survival and form a base for cultural development.