Currently numbering around 4,200, the Saisiyat are scattered in the west of the Central Mountain Range’s northern section, particularly Wufeng, Tungho, and Shihtan on the borders of Hsinchu and Miaoli countries. Their tribal land is surrounded by Atayal and Hakka villages. Due to extensive contact with the Han Chinese on the plains, the Saisiyat have been acculturated and they have adopted quite a few Chinese customs. Some linguists speculate that the Saisiyat were among the first aboriginal tribes to settle in Taiwan.
Despite their small population, the Saisiyat have drawn wide attention in recent years with their “Pasta’ai” or the ceremony of respect to the negritos who provided culture to them. Every other year, the Saisiyat receive the returning souls of the “ little people” when the moon is full in the tenth month of the lunar calendar.
During the preparatory period, everyone is supposed to get along harmoniously with one another. The negrito respect comprises three consecutive days and nights of songs and dances to welcome, entertain and see off the souls of the legendary negritos. Through this occasion, the Saisiyat remind themselves of all their forefathers’ counsel and they pass on a unique centuries-old heritage.