News & Events


July 26, 2017

With PhD in Hand, Ciwang Teyra Returns to Taiwan

Dr. Ciwang Teyra and her father

I started the PhD program in the School of Social Work in 2011. As an indigenous person from the Truku Tribal Nation of Taiwan, I am very fortunate to have been mentored by indigenous and allied non-indigenous scholars at the UW. I especially want to thank IWRI faculty, Dr. Tessa Evans-Campbell, Dr. Karina Walters, Dr. Cynthia Pearson and Dr. Bonnie Duran. Because of their generous support, encouragement and investment in my scholarly growth, I was able to complete my dissertation with the title: “Culture and History Matter: Historical Trauma and Cultural Protective Factors on Alcohol Use among Truku Tribal People.” The findings of my dissertation suggest that hunting practices and walking in traditional mountainous areas (where our ancestors used to live and/or hunt) can alleviate the influence of historical trauma on health risk behaviors such as alcohol use. These findings not only offer evidence that indigenous hunting practices can protect against the damaging legacy of colonization facing their communities, but they also potentially support the ongoing indigenous social movement fighting for hunting rights in Taiwan.

I also want to thank the IWRI family, including all faculty, staff and students along with members of the Indigenous Substance Abuse, Medicines, and Addictions Research Training (ISMART) Program. I truly appreciate their incredible mentorship, friendship, wisdom, and emotional and intellectual support. Although the journey of studying abroad was not easy for me (especially since I have a strong connection with my tribal members and our lands), all of your love and support made Seattle – UW – IWRI as a second home to me. Through working with and learning from you, I also see the important value of indigenous collaboration across international indigenous communities. I hope that we will continue to collaborate in the future.

After all these years of studying abroad, I am finally able to move back to my native country, Taiwan. I will be an assistant professor in the Social Work Department at National Taiwan University effective August 2017. Building upon the findings of my dissertation, my future goal is to continue to work with tribal communities in Taiwan to investigate indigenous resilience when faced with the adversities of lifetime and historical trauma. These findings could benefit indigenous tribal communities in Taiwan, especially the fight for indigenous sovereignty. The emphasis on indigenous resilience could demonstrate to the dominant non-indigenous society the existing strengths among tribal communities, which in turn may contribute to the dominant society’s understanding of the need for promoting indigenous rights and sovereignty and willingness to become a non-indigenous allies.

The focus of indigenous resilience in my career is shaped by my experience

of learning from and working with the IWRI family at the UW and our tribal communities in Taiwan. I believe that our cross-national and cross-communities relationships won’t stop after the completion of my doctoral degree. Returning home carrying the love from IWRI is not only a new life chapter for me, but it also will provide more opportunities for us to collaborate in the future.

Mohawy su balay / 謝謝 / Thank you!
Ciwang Teyra, PhD