Thousands of years ago, Taiwan was home to tribal peoples of diverse language and religions. Today their descendants hold on to ancient traditions like the dance shown below: Ita Thao tribal dancers re-create an origin story of hunters pursuing a white stag high into the mountains to discover the beautiful Sun-Moon Lake.

sun moon dancers Further to the Southeast, in between the green mountains and blue Pacific Ocean, tribal farmers continue to cultivate crops in fields marked with Neolithic stone markers (below).

tribal field

In December, I will travel to Taiwan on a Fulbright Research Fellowship to work with tribal communities to learn about crop types that hark back to Neolithic times. I think that these hardy ancient crops might hold the key to diversifying Taiwan’s agriculture and building resiliency to climate change.  Part of my task there will be to map tribal fields, which will help farmers get accurate measures of field size and amount under cultivation.  Exciting!

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