Atayal’s identification of sustainability: traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous science of a hunting culture

Wei Ta Fang*, Hsin Wen Hu, Chien Shing Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The history of Taiwan’s Indigenous peoples is not well developed in written form, but has been passed down in oral form based on memories from the collective consciousness. However, tracing the cultural roots of Indigenous peoples’ concepts of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and science is necessary to more deeply engage with Indigenous epistemologies. The main purpose of this narrative inquiry is to explore traditional concepts of the Indigenous Atayal aborigines of gaga (moral rules) and utux (faith) from a hunting culture, which has constructed their sustainability. This study was performed using qualitative social sciences. We listened to and collected stories by local tribes that live at elevations of 300–1300 m in northern Taiwan, and then conducted an analysis based on a joint construction of cultural meanings from rights-holders such as Atayal officers, tribe leaders, and local hunters. Using concepts from TEK, we determined how these concepts of gaga and utux became established in the lives of the Atayal people, and how Indigenous Atayal hunters have devoted their skills to maintaining the culture which sustains their resilient landscapes and ecosystems. Through the special cultural connotations of hunting knowledge and specifications, the hunting behavior of Taiwan’s Atayal can shape a harmonic balance with ecological systems, and facilitate learning about competition and rules of survival in the natural environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-43
Number of pages11
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 1


  • Atayal
  • Indigenous research
  • Natural resources
  • Taiwan
  • Tribal knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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