Surprise From Google: A Century-Old Marriage Contract

Surprise From Google: A Century-Old Marriage Contract
Keelung River. Photo Credit:李家宇 Wikicommons @ CC BY-SA 4.0

By Rosey Peng/Ketatgalan Media

(For Part 1 “The Tribe That Disappeared From Songshan International Airport,” click here.)

“The old great-uncles from Beitou’s Pingding mountain area look indigenous…”

Every year during the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations with the entire family, my oldest uncle always mentions this in between sips of slowly brewed tea, his eyes looking deep.

But is that really true? The indigenous Austronesian peoples from the Taipei Basin area should be “Pingpu,” which is the term that was given by the Chinese Qing Imperial government to the indigenous peoples who used to live on the broad plain area of western Taiwan. During the period of Japanese rule, Japanese scholars referred to the Taipei indigenous peoples as the Ketagalan Tribe. Is it possible that our family is a part of them?

I’ve wondered about this question since 2008. My curiosity tempted me to start searching for the lost legends in the modern metropolis of Taipei.

So my maternal grandmother’s mother is a “Mature” indigenous. According to the Japanese era household registration documents, her name is “Min Shiting” (閩石廷). Unlike the Korean surname Min (閔), this is the Min (閩) from “Minnan” (it means the southern part of Fujian Province in China), which is probably one of the special Chinese surnames given by the Chinese officials to Taiwanese indigenous Pingpu peoples.

The Japanese household survey on Taiwan’s ethnic groups categorized “ethnicity” as follows:

Fu (福): Minnan

Guang (廣): Hakka

Assimilated (熟, or literally “ripe, or mature”): Taiwan Plains Indigenous

Unassimilated (生, or literally “raw, or unripe”): Other Taiwan Indigenous

As I tried to contain my excitement, I further asked household registration officers to trace back the records as far as they can. With all the information we found, I was stunned by the truth that my great grandmother’s immediate family, as well as her entire maternal family line, all had their ethnicity column noted as “Mature”. Everything proves that our family does have indigenous roots.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The full piece is published on Ketagalan Media here: Surprise From Google: A Century-Old Marriage Contract

First Editor: Olivia Yang