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Asia-Pacific delegations gather on Guam for Indigenous Youth Forum

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Akiku Haisum

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Youth delegations from Asia-Pacific countries are gathered on Guam this week for the International Indigenous Youth Forum regional training, hosted by the Taiwan Council of Indigenous Peoples.

The 20-year program is aimed at cultivating young indigenous talents for international affairs, Akiku Haisum, chief secretary of the council said at the opening ceremony held on March 18 at the Pacific Islands Club in Tumon.

Participants include youth delegates from Guam, Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea), the United States, eight ethnic groups in Taiwan (Amis, Paiwan, Atayal, Bunun, Rukai, Sediq, Cou) and one observer from Belize.

“We encourage them to share their cultures with one another, and exchange thoughts on the issues and challenges shared among indigenous communities,” Haisum said.

This is the first time the council held the forum outside of Taiwan.

Paul Chen, director of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office on Guam, said the forum offered "a very good opportunity for trainees to learn first-hand" about other cultures in the region.

"Manmade political system cannot recreate cultures," Chen said, reminding the youth delegates to do their part in preserving their cultures.


The training, which runs through March 22, covers a curriculum that includes lectures by CHamoru experts and scholars, as well as visits to the Governor’s Complex, Guam Museum, Guam Department of Chamorro Affairs, Sagan Kotturan CHamoru Cultural Center, Chief Hurao Academy, Traditions Affirming Our Seafaring Ancestry, and the Commission on Decolonization.

Haisum noted Taiwan’s similarities with other cultures of Austronesian origin.

“According to various studies in language, archeology, and genetics, Taiwan is the origin of the Austronesian People.

Let me give two examples,” she said. “In Taiwan, the Philippines, Guam, Malaysia, Palau, the Marshall Islands, and New Zealand, the number 5 is pronounced 'lima,' and the eye is 'mata.' It shows that we’re members of the Austronesian family.”

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