Archaeological, linguistic and anecdotal evidence suggests that Taiwan's indigenous peoples have undergone a series of cultural shifts to meet the pressures of contact with other societies and new technologies.
Beginning in the early 17th century, Taiwanese aborigines faced broad cultural change as the country became incorporated into the wider global economy by a succession of competing colonial regimes from Europe and Asia;.
Efforts are under way in indigenous communities to revive traditional cultural practices and preserve their traditional languages, the Austronesian Cultural Festival in Taitung City is one means by which community members promote aboriginal culture.
In addition, several aboriginal communities have become extensively involved in the tourism and ecotourism industries with the goal of achieving increased economic self-reliance and preserving their culture.
Among the Plains groups that have petitioned for official status, only the Kavalan and Sakizaya have been officially recognized, the remaining twelve recognized groups are traditionally regarded as mountain aboriginals.
Other indigenous groups or subgroups that have pressed for recovery of legal aboriginal status include Chimo (who have not formally petitioned the government, see Lee 2003), Kakabu, Makatao, Pazeh, Siraya, and Taivoan.
Using contemporary ethnographic and linguistic criteria, these villages have been classed by anthropologists into more than 20 broad (and widely debated) ethnic groupings, To gain this recognition, communities must gather a number of signatures and a body of supporting evidence with which to successfully petition the CIP.Formal recognition confers certain legal benefits and rights upon a group, as well as providing them with the satisfaction of recovering their separate identity as an ethnic group, as of June 2014, 16 people groups have been recognized.The Council of Indigenous Peoples consider several limited factors in a successful formal petition, the determining factors include collecting member genealogies, group histories and evidence of a continued linguistic and cultural identity.Taxonomies imposed by colonizing forces divided the aborigines into named subgroups, referred to as "tribes", these divisions did not always correspond to distinctions drawn by the aborigines themselves.However, the categories have become so firmly established in government and popular discourse over time that they have become de facto distinctions, serving to shape in part today's political discourse within the Republic of China (ROC), and affecting Taiwan's policies regarding indigenous peoples.The indigenous peoples of Taiwan face economic and social barriers, including a high unemployment rate and substandard education, since the early 1980s, many aboriginal groups have been actively seeking a higher degree of political self-determination and economic development.The revival of ethnic pride is expressed in many ways by aborigines, including the incorporation of elements of their culture into commercially successful pop music.The Musha incident of 1930 led to many changes in aboriginal policy, and the Japanese government began referring to them as Takasago-zoku The KMT later adopted the use of all the earlier Japanese groupings except Peipo.Despite recent changes in the field of anthropology and a shift in government objectives, the Pingpu and Gaoshan labels in use today maintain the form given by the Qing to reflect aborigines' acculturation to Han culture.The act of petitioning for recognized status, however, does not always reflect any consensus view among scholars that the relevant group should in fact be categorized as a separate ethnic group.There is discussion among both scholars and political groups regarding the best or most appropriate name to use for many of the people groups and their languages, as well as the proper romanization of that name.