Legislator Kolas Yotaka expressed that she received an invitation to attend Bunun Peoples’ (布農族人) “Repatriation of My Ancestors’ Remains Press Conference” but chose to leave the remarks for the people of the Kunuan Community （馬遠部落）to voice. Kolas used her Facebook account to share the conditions and comments of the press conference live. She stated, “This is a solemn and melancholy occasion. Indigenous Peoples from other communities have no rights to make remarks. It should be reserved for the Peoples of the Bunan Kunuan Community. At the same time, Kolas also strongly stated, “We are people, not animals.” Taiwan National University (NTU) has more indigenous remains that have not been repatriated yet. This needs to be done immediately.
Kolas stated that the academic world should reflect on its practices, oftentimes blindly insisting on its purity and inability to ever violate academic freedom. However, the controversy of Indigenous Peoples being the subjects of anthropology studies remains. After reading academic journals and relevant reports, Kolas found that other than the sixty-some sets of remains belong to the Kunuan Community, NTU still has over one hundred sets of remains belonging to Hualien and Taidong’s five different indigenous groups. The willingness of NTU to face its dark history and repatriate the remains of Bunun ancestors so they can receive a proper reburial is a step in the right direction. However, if there are even more indigenous remains locked up at NTU, the university must bravely confront its past practices.
Kolas expressed that when she read the relevant historical data she found that other than the 64 sets of remains from the Kunuan community were at NTU that there were over 100 sets of remains from Hualien and Taidong’s five main groups of Indigenous Peoples that were still locked within NTU’s laboratories. She pressed NTU about these remains but NTU expressed that the information was unclear and needs to be clarified.
Kolas was severely skeptical of the answer because according NTU Alumni Bimonthly, an article dated September 2012, “Physical Anthropological Laboratory”, starting from the Japanese reign in Taiwan, Japanese and Han Chinese Anthropologists have exhumed over a thousand sets of human remains from all over Taiwan. Among them are over two hundred Indigenous Peoples remains from the Hualien and Taidong regions. There are also animal remains including Taiwan apes, Taiwan boars, ruminants and other creatures from 1944 era in the Yuanshan area.
Kolas sternly expressed, “We are people, not animals.” Currently, she is persistantly negotiating with National Taiwan University (NTU) to return the remains and is helping Kunuan community coordinate with Ministry of the Interior to build a historical justice memorial cemetery. Kolas deeply admires Bunun peoples’ bravery in combating academic hegemony. They are a role model for the rest of the Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan. Kolas also issued a warning to NTU that the movement for repatriation of remains is just starting, not ending.