Duona Elementary School in Maolin District／一脈相承的沙古塔忘─茂林多納國小
Duona Elementary School in Maolin District
◎English translation: Hou Ya-ting
◎Photos by Ye Yu-ci
Duona Elementary School treasures its indigenous Drekay (Rukai) heritage and makes the promotion and maintenance of the tribe's ancestral language and culture a priority. The school has carefully created a Drekay cultural ambiance throughout its campus. Entering via the main gate, on the right one sees mosaics which depict two hunters and a hound. According to legend, around 200 years ago, Drekay communities lived in various locations, but whenever hunters were chasing animals at what is now Duona, they noticed the hounds seemed reluctant to leave this swamp. This convinced the hunters the site was an ideal place to inhabit, and their chieftain consented to relocating the tribe to Duona's current location. Later on, they were joined by other clans, forming today's Duona community. In the Drekay language, Duona is called Kungadavane.
Traditional buildings here are made of stone slabs, and this type of architecture is reflected in the choice of building materials around the campus. The review stand, walls, and school facade all feature stone slabs. In the past, Duona's people cut stone slabs near the village's hot springs. Moving heavy slabs and using them to assemble a building required collaboration. Such structures are therefore symbols of unity and cooperation.
Entering the campus, visitors can see stories about Duona, told in the form of tribal totems engraved upon stone-slab walls. The Cultural Exhibition Hall is located on the second floor, and this is where pupils study their ancestral tongue. At the hall's entrance there is a board inscribed with motifs of hundred-pacer snakes and ceramic pots. It is hoped these images instill in Duona's children the importance of not forgetting their roots. For outsiders interested in the lifestyles of the villagers' ancestors, the Cultural Exhibition Hall is an excellent place to view tools, attire, handicrafts, and historic photos.
The Drekay express their mythology in the form of iconic totems and paintings, and these can be seen around the campus. One noticeable place to look is the outside wall of the kindergarten affiliated with the school. Drekay spelling symbols and animated pictures, it is hoped, will encourage young pupils' interest in their mother tongue.
The school playground is the main venue of the Tapakadrawane Festival, the most important annual event for the Drekay. This festival takes place in the middle of July, and many Drekay who study or work in other parts of Taiwan return home for the event.
Legend has it that Tapakadrawane originates from the River God seeing a mother who was too busy to plant black kernel rice and take care of her child at the same time. The god therefore kindly offered to look after her child until the child grew into an adult, promising to eventually send the youngster back home on one condition: In return, the mother must offer part of her crop to the god.
When the child returned to the tribe, the inhabitants organized the Tapakadrawane Festival as a way to express their gratitude to the god. Since then, the festival has evolved into a more general celebration of abundance harvests and appreciation for those divinities who bless crops. This year's Tapakadrawane Festival, in addition to its traditional function, embraced both local residents and visitors by hosting a series of cultural events, such as garlanding wreaths, grinding millet with a wooden mortar, playing on swings, trap games, archery, and sawing wood, in order to promote Drekay culture.
A visit to charming Duona Elementary School –whether your aim is pleasant communication with the Drekay, observing Drekay culture, or appreciating beautiful scenery –is sure to make a deep impression on you.