For us, contemporary Taiwan has the face of modern Taipei – glass skyscrapers, technology, and a big city metropolis. But not so long ago, the island was home to many indigenous peoples who lived in forests, mountains and hills in very different conditions. One of these indigenous ethnic groups is the Paiwan group, to which the author of the Hunter School Sakinu Ahronglong belongs. For years, he has been trying to ensure that the culture and customs of Paiwan are not forgotten, and he helps young people find their way to their ethnic roots, if they want, of course.
Hunter School is only part of his activities in this field. Sakinu is an activist and educator, forester and founder of an authentic “hunter school”. In his introduction to the book, he says that realizing that he belongs to the Paiwan people, finding forgotten traditions, convincing others (including even loved ones) to them, and finally writing them down, was not easy at all.
Hunter School consists of a dozen or so short stories which together form one coherent story. In the first part, we look at how a boy learns from his father to hunt, but also to respect the nature that surrounds him, from his grandparents he learns to cultivate the land and make wine, but also to read signs sent by nature. In the second and third part, we learn how the life of the Paiwans was influenced by the contact with the city, the emigration of Han Chinese, Japanese culture, but also the migrations of other Aboriginal groups such as Ami or Pingpu. His stories are simple but charming and, above all, very personal. It is not an impartial analysis or a scientific work, and therefore it is not devoid of some simplifications and romanticizations.
Hunter School is worth reading if we want to broaden our literary horizons beyond the beaten path and mainstream.