around the time Sifon’s version of “Sailor’s Love” circulated in the niyaro’ another model of Indigenous popular music, connected to the tradition of singer-songwriter protest folk movements in the United States, also emerged, associated with the nascent movement for Indigenous rights and “Outside the Party” agitation
promotional materials for a 1984 concert to benefit victims of the Haishan mining disaster (Minorities Commission of the Outside the Party Writers and Editors Association 1984; reproduced in Icyang Parod 1999) entangled the sound of boat horns with the temporality of democratic movements, then emerging on Taiwan. A report on the concert railed
now we are herded to the oceans to work as fishermen, herded to the dark little rooms of Huahsi Street to be the playthings of lustful men, herded to the burning hot center of the earth to be miners (Icyang Parod 1999: 68)
the quote establishes equivalence between forms of labor exploitation, placing the mine disaster beside far ocean fishing and sex trafficking. In this sense, we might—particularly if we place far oceaning within a history of Indigenous rights movements (cf. Icyang Parod 1999)—hear the sound of boat horns as punctuation, as a token of many injustices now ameliorated in Taiwan’s multicultural democracy
yet I wonder if the sonic archive of far ocean fishing can resolve so readily into a national narrative
what if we were to hear in the disjuncture between settler and Indigenous versions of popular song a voice that orients listeners to a differently articulated history? Then we might, having heard the doubleness of Sifon Wu Chih-yi’s voice against Tan I-liong’s “Sailor’s Love,” also hear the gap between settler futurity and Indigenous temporal orientations in the work of ‘Amis songwriters like Suming Rupi (‘Atolan ‘Amis). Suming’s “Don’t Be So Quick to Say You Love Me in ‘Atolan” is both a bossa nova inspired love song beloved of settler hipsters but also a protest anthem
can we hear Sifon’s registration of the boat horn as mediating between the body of the singer and the beloved as it resonates in Suming’s warning not to profess love until all has been despoiled?
if so, we might consider boat horns and love songs artifacts that potentially do more than express cultural dissonance. A resource for developing temporal orientation, these songs could also transform Indigenous relationships with the settler majority