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First Contact with Alcohol and Self-Perception of Health: A Story of Three Tao Elders: An Aboriginal Tribe Without Liquor-Making Tradition
Chang Shu Wen
self-perception of health
Tao is the only tribe that has no liquor-making tradition among the fourteen indigenous peoples of Taiwan. Their ancestors did not make or drink liquors, and the word ‘liquor’ even does not exist in Tao people’s language. Many studies, however, suggested that liquors are now playing an important role in Tao people’s daily life. What started to bring liquors into the everyday life of a tribe that has no tradition of liquor-making? The objective of the present study is to describe the hsitorical and interpersonal context at the time when the first contact between Tao people and alcohol happened, and to know Tao people’s motivation and situation of drinking and their self-perception of health. The study adopts field observation of quality technique to understand alcohol use and the concept of drinking control in the tribe. This research subjects are three Tao elders who had no prior experience with alcohol until the first appearance of it in Lanyu. In order to reach the validity and the affection of study, data from an additional priest and a brethren in Ivalino (野銀) village were also included for the triangle confirmation in data analyses.The results showed that Tao people did not drink alcohol during the Japanese colonial rule period. After Taiwan restoration, the tobacco liquor regime of the monopoly was executed, and currency was introduced into Lanyu. The Tao people experienced drinking alcohol when they worked in Taiwan and brought the habit of alcohol drinking back to Lanyu. This was the key period when Tao people started to drink. Through the life experience of drinking of three Tao elders, this study describes the meanings of drinking and the self-perception of health. The study adopt field observation to document when and where Tao people drink and how the church tries to advocate the concept of control drinking and healthy drinking in the tribe. According to the result, it is suggested that health professionals in Lanyu should understand Tao tribe’s history contexts. In order to effectively advocate the concept of healthy drinking and to make it suitable for the local culture, the tribe health system should also include church, health centers, and the social support from the Tao tradition in the future.
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