living in cepo’ i soon learned to interact with the river and my neighbors by visiting the river mouth early in the mornings to fish for tiny fish fry, pudaw, using a triangular net. my installation, “tapping currents,” actually borrows from the form of these nets to suggest the ways that they are part of the ways that cepo’ pangcah connect to the river as a source of life, how they “tap currents” at once biological, climatic, and social
The nets, safang, create new forms of relations across groups of people, among species, and with the environment. A former community leader and elder in Laeno, ciKohaw, has told me that even today, no one in the community need fear starvation; as long as one was hardworking and had a net, the river would provide plenty of pudaw for food and cash income. As a youth, he pulled prodigious amounts of pudaw from the river mouth with old style, long nets.
technologies for mipudaw have changed. The nets are broader, leading to a faster technique that requires more upper body strength and more exposure to waves. Not everyone in Cepo’ approves of such innovations. LED headlamps now allow misafangay to fish without the constraints of available light or carrying a large battery pack on one’s back
as I learned to misafang, I noticed how safang construction remains a topic of conversation around Cepo’ as pollution and channelization in other rivers has pushed misafangay, some belonging to the settler population, from rivers north of Cepo’—in Fongbin, Hualien, or even Ilan—to Cepo’ to follow the fish. One of these, a young restaurant owner from Hualien City, often talks about improvements to safang with the group of netizens who gather at Cepo’
meanwhile, misafangay tell me about urban Indigenous youth who want a taste of home. They use New Taiwan Dollars as their safang. And, of course, there are those in the settler population who condemn safang as environmentally irresponsible. Hence the safang is situated in often antagonistic relations among people who either purchase or fish for pudaw and those who do not approve of the nets, as well as debates about the right ways to fish
these artifactual features of safang indicate the many ways that these nets provide means to know the river and, so doing, hold the community together