Saturday, January 10, 2009

SERIAL 17: Kondo Katsusaburo among Taiwan's Atayal/Sedeq peoples, 1896 to 1930

Storm clouds gather in Japan's relationship with the Taiwan aborigines! Enjoy the latest installment of Dr. Paul Barclay's translation of Kondo Katsusaburo's experiences up to and during the 1930 Wushe revolt, which were serialized in the local Taiwan Japanese-language papers in the early 1930s. Kondo married into an aboriginal family and traveled extensively in aboriginal territory. (For introduction to Kondo and his era, see Installments 1 & 2. Links to other installments are on the bottom of the left-hand sidebar). Dr. Barclay is the general editor of the wonderful Gerald Warner Taiwan Image Collection which I urge everyone interested in Taiwan to visit.

Chapter Twenty-four: Kondō Negotiates an Extension of the Guardline

(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō February 5, 1931)

The preparations were completed. Ostensibly, this battle would be fought to exact revenge upon the Truku and Teuda for the demise of Captain Fukahori. To this end, Kondō became Wushe's paramount chief (sōtōmoku). They set out to extend the guardline to Tatsutaka. The "Protect us Merciful Buddha!" flags became the emblems of battle. Six pieces of mountain artillery, two field-artillery guns, and ten mortars were placed at the Kirigaseki inspector's station. They were set to be moved wherever needed at any point along the guardline. All that remained was to begin moving. On January 10th, 1909, at 5 a.m., the Aborigines, without a single person missing, mustered quietly and bravely as the sun rose from the east. Just how many showed up? Small stones were used to measure their numbers. A checkpoint was set up at the pass out of Rōdof village; as the Aborigines passed through the exit, each left a stone. That day, 647 stones were counted up, representing the number of men who marched to battle.

This number of Aborigines only was to occupy and hold the road from Rōdof to Sanjiaopu, just on the Wushe side of Tatsutaka—a distance of about fifteen miles. This distance was divided into four sections with a commensurate number of men allocated to a station in each section. The remaining men were assigned to mobile units to guard the area between the four stations. On that day, without incident, they completed their deployments and secured the road. The sixty-four "Protect us Merciful Buddha!" banners dotted the road like a dancing white dragon. It was as if the departed souls of Captain Fukahori and his men had returned to flutter in the mountain winds around Wushe. When the extension of the Tatsutaka line was completely effected, Kondō called on the headman of Teuda and declared his intention to fight. As he spread the word from village to village he fired one shot to signal his declaration war.

At this time, a Teuda man hunting in the mountains towards Habon accidentally appeared on the secured road, ignorant of the declarations of battle. One of the young Wushe men, who had been waiting in anticipation, regarded him as an enemy and commenced fighting with his spear. They were evenly matched and the spear fighting continued inconclusively until they broke their weapons. They began to grapple. Fighting patiently for two hours, they exchanged positions; neither wanted to give up. Man against man! This was the way they customarily fought battles. Kondō watched quietly for a long time. Though they were exhausted, it seemed that neither would quit until one of them died--unless Kondō intervened. Therefore, Kondō stepped in to separate them. He helped the Teuda man and let him go. At the same time, he took care of his young ally from Wushe. Nevertheless, the youth did not appreciate Kondō's intervention in the least.

The youth asked Kondō why he did not take the Teuda man's head. Kondō replied that since there were two of them against one, it would not have been fair. And so went Kondō's efforts to console the young man. Kondō prayed that no blood would be shed during the construction of the guardline. It was the evening of January 10th, the day Kondō dispatched his troops. Kondō entrusted matters to his men, passed through the unfurled banners along the secured path, and returned to headquarters in Kirigaseki. He concluded his report, explaining that the police forces (keisatsutai) could proceed at any time. Hence, the next day, the police began to move. The command of Aborigine auxiliaries, the placement of the above mentioned eighteen artillery pieces, the building of gunnery platforms--all of the procedures necessary to fortify the savage border along the guardline hereafter—were progressing by the day.

Thanks to Kondō's desire and the protection of the character festooned flags, this difficult work went forward without a hitch. The Aborigines worked obediently, but the period of calm and inactivity left them chafing in expectation; all they could do was massage their steely arms as they wait. They worked faithfully, until success was achieved, into mid-February [1909]. Then they returned to their villages. In the meantime, it had been decided that the Aborigine Affairs Section (tōkyoku) would give the Aborigines compensation of an undetermined amount for their efforts. After consulting with Aui Nukan, headman of Hōgō, to calculate [an appropriate sum], Kondō submitted his report in April. By some fluke or mistake, we are now in the Shōwa era and this compensation has still remained unpaid. This [slight] festered as a cause of subsequent problems, like the Wushe uprising; it even remained as part of Mona Ludao's last will and testament.

Installment 1 & 2 with Introduction to the series Installment 3 & 4 Installment 5 & 6 Installment 7 & 8 Installment 9 & 10 Installment 11 & 12 Installment 13 Installment 14 Installment 15 Installment 16 Installment 17 Installment 18 Installment 19 Installment 20 Installment 21 Installment 22

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