Organized Panel Session
Translation is an issue in any discussion of indigenous “sovereignty” because indigenous languages are less likely to have a ready made, widely accepted word for sovereignty. This is a strength not a weakness: the lexical gap forces any translator to clarify what is concealed in an abstract noun like “sovereignty” - agents and patients and their interrelations in space and time. I focus on Seediq. My research question is: How to translate sovereignty in Seediq? And my method is to mine translations from Mandarin into Seediq, for the feature film Seediq Bale (dir. Wei Te-sheng, 2011), as well as texts, both oral and written, originally composed in Seediq, especially the monologues of Pawan Nawi in Yusheng (dir. Tang Hsiang-chu, 2014), for a Seediq perspective on sovereignty. How would Seediq people articulate sovereignty in Seediq today? In addition to referring to Gaya, the moral law that includes both alang (village community) and lmiqu (mountain forest), they would also make reference to a relation of possession between seediq (people) and dheran (land, especially land that is in view or underfoot, but also understood functionally as in a hunting ground) and in terms of an origin myth according to which the first man and the first woman are the progeny of a rock resembling both a tree and a human body, the pusu qhuni (basic tree). As such, they are tied to a source of life that, transcending categories like animal, vegetable, or mineral, not to mention alive or dead, is all-encompassing.