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This research was conducted to investigate the life histories of two persons from Paiwan tribe, a man and a woman, whose careers and social status were considered outstanding in their community, one of the aboriginal
tribes in Ping-Tung County, in Taiwan. The researcher sought to reveal the factors contributing to their successful deeds and provide good examples for
the young to follow.
A qualitative mode of method, the study of life-history, was employed for the research. The first-hand data were corrected by profound and detailed interviews, after an intensive review of the literature concerning their social
cultural context of life. Then, a life-history was made respectively, for systematic analyses, based on their self-report in the interview. Questions were posed for seeking the supportive factors relevant to their successful
careers, for example, their special family back-grounds and personal characters, the turning points or important figures they met in their career; what made them so persistent and persevering to preserve their own tradition against the dominant cultures in the modern society; and what they expected and strove for the future for their people and themselves.
The findings were summed up in three categories as following:
1. The supportive factors to their careers were found to include the supports from family, marriage and friend, their personal characters, and cultural tradition. It was interesting that their parents' occupations and
manners of family discipline were more influential than financial supports,
while encouragement of their spouses and friends were all helpful to their careers. The personal factors consisted of high motivation and ambition and
positive self-identification, while the character of perseverance was a determinant component among them.
The traditional culture factors were also found specially helpful for both reporters in several ways, regardless of their sex. In a Paiwan family, the eldest son or daughter received a higher family status and expectation, and had
the right to inherit the family property. Being the eldest child of their own family, they had more responsibility and resource for their careers. The male reporter, a glass bead maker, was a high-rank leader of the tribe, and hence, in a better position to get information about their traditional craftarts. For the female reporter, the broken-down of the strict constrain in their marital custom
enabled her to enjoy a family life of a different culture, and came back to share her experiences which became parts of their traditional social visions and the inner drive for reviving Paiwan culture. Nevertheless, their traditional craft skills should be considered the very cornerstones for their successful careers.
2. Regarding the question about what made them so persistent and insistent in preserving their own tradition against the dominant cultures, the answers differed due to the sex variable. The female reporter had the trouble
with the changes of her personal and cultural identities when she married a husband from another ethnic and cultural group. As the time went by, however, she became more respectful for her own people and culture. On the
contrary, the male reporter was always making best use of his social status and enjoying his successful career in his own community, and trying to do his best to innovate their traditional craft arts.
3. The two reporters had their own expectations for their community and for themselves. The female hoped that the government help develop a market for their products and train their young peoples the skills needed for
their cultural industry, and personally, she hoped to have her own showroom
and a trade-mark for her own products, and systematically develop the weaving skills and hand over them to the younger generation.
The male reporter expected to preserve their social system, significant festivals, mother language, and fork songs and dances, while personally, he was looking forward to having a gallery for craft works, editing the tribe
history and a Paiwan dictionary, and engaging in scientific research. A center
for spiritual practice was among his ambitions as well.
Keywords: Paiwan Tribe, life-history, outstanding aborigine (aboriginal elite)