K H A H I L L H O U S E
RAI NORTHERN THAILAND
The Story of the Beginning of Hill Tribes
There are six different hill tribes in Thailand. All hill tribes live in northern Thailand,
in the hills, and mountains. They occupy the province of Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hosong, Lampang,
as well as Tad, and Kajanaburi. Akha people originate from Tibet, to Burma,
then to Thailand. The Lisu people, as well as the Lahu people all originated from
Tibet as well. Then there are the Yao people that came from China,
To Thailand. Hmong people have also come from China, but then to Laos, then Thailand. The Karen people originated in Burma, but are now found in Thailand as well.The population of the Akha hill tribe is 80 000 across Thailand.
The Lisu is at 35 000, Lahu is 58 000, the Yao is at 50 000,Hmong are at
82 000,Karen are at 280000 Making a grand total of 535 000
hill tribe people
across all of Thailand.In the past 20 years the Akha people have been farming.
Growing there rice fields, cutting and burning the jungle making room for more rice farms. Every year new jungle must be cut down for new rice fields, if you use a field more then once for rice, the rice will be no good. Since so much land is taken every
year for new fields, a village can only occupy a piece of land for a maximum of 3 to 4 years before the land is thoroughly exhausted. Then it is off to a new location,
new farms, new land, and then the old one is burnt down. The houses of bamboo
are burned with it, and then a crop of rice is planted in its place.
Nowadays things are different though. The Thai government now controls the land, and is stopping the burning and the cutting of the jungle. Now they have to do rice fields on the same field every year. This is very hard for the hill tribe people, with out the use
of new fields there is not enough rice growing to feed them all year. This is also destroying the customs of the hill tribe people. With no work in the fields more have
to go to school. Most schools are far away and expensive though, the parent?s
scraping money together to pay for it. Then after the children are educated, they are unable to work in there villages. No work for them there
in their chosen professions, so they move away, finding a mate somewhere else,
never moving back.With the
cities growing larger the hill tribe people are now able to commute from the villages to work quit easily.
Akha people many years ago where not Christians, but believed in spirits.
In this time the birth of twins was believed to bring bad luck to the village
they were born in. This not only scared the people of
this village, but also surrounding villages hearing of the twins? birth.
When the twins were born everyone in the village was forced to take three days
of holiday, as everyone was too scared to leave the village. Then the magic man
(or women) of the village (each Akha village having there own magician) had to remove the twins from their mother, and take them out of the village to the jungle, where they were killed. Then parents of the twins where forced to leave the village
for one year after the twins were killed. They would have
to find there own food, water,and shelter, not allowed to return home
until after they had been cleansed.
Then after retuning home, the village was still convinced that even by talking
to the couple bad luck might
be passed on. Then the families where always cast aside, making it very
difficult for any of their children to marry.This is one of the reasons the
Akha people became Christian.
One of the Akha people?s spiritual beliefs was that when someone fell ill they
had to go see a magic man or women. The magic person would then take
a personal belonging from the sick person and place it under their pillow.
During the night the sprit of the sick person would come to the magician telling
them what sacrifices that person had to make in order to get better. The sacrifices
were always large such as: three pigs, three dogs, three chickens, and three eggs.
Most people did not possess these things that they were ordered to
kill though, so they were forced to buy them. Some people were to poor though
to buy those things for the sacrifice, meaning they could never get well.
This is one of the reasons that Akha people became Christians
Now 90% of Akha people are Christian, while the other 10% of the
Akha people still believe in spirits.
Akha North Thailand
Population and Geographical Distribution
The Akha ethnic group originated from Southwest China. While more than 700,000 Akha continue to live in Yunnan province, significant numbers have migrated
southward during the last century. Today, nearly 200,000 Akha live in Myanmar
and 92,000 in Laos. Another 12,500 live in Vietnam where they are known as
Ha Nhi. According to 1995 population figures published by the Tribal Research
Institute of Chiang Rai, there are over 80,000 Akha living in 258 villages
in North Thailand. Speakers of Tai languages often call the Akha "Ekaw"
or simply "Kaw," terms viewed derogatory by the Akha because these terms
are akin to words which mean "slave."
ToTAL : 1.084.500 AKHA PEOPLE