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The Survival of Tibetan Culture

Recorded Tibetan history dates from the fourth century when the first kingdoms were established at Yarlung, in what is now South-Central Tibet. Later, in the seventh century, the center of Tibetan civilization shifted to the valley of Lhasa, "Gods' Place," where the first Buddhist kingdoms were established. Tibet maintained independent political relations with both China and Nepal; and though the…

The Ladakh Project

An Example of Appropriate Technology and Cooperative Spirit Over the years, writers and travelers have been unable to resist employing the term Shangri La to describe the remote land of Ladakh, in northern India. Yet, at a glance, this region of the Tibetan Plateau seems an unlikely paradise. The soaring Himalayas, which define Ladakh on the south, prevent all but about four inches of annual…

The Impact of Deforestation on Life in Nepal

The tourists who flock to Nepal in ever-increasing numbers are offered an idyllic vision of rural life, seemingly unchanged for centuries, set among some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world. Yet this image is illusory; despite revenue from tourism and massive injections of foreign aid (now totaling over half the national budget), the rural population in the Hills of Nepal is…

The Catskill Mountains, USA - Physical and Cultural Restoration

ONE SMALL TOWN FOR SALE, FULLY OCCUPIED, proclaimed a headline in The New York Times classified section one fall Sunday in 1976. This description of the village of Corbett followed: 130 wild acres; a cluster of 30-odd white frame houses, an abandoned schoolhouse whose black iron bell still hangs in the belfry cocked at an angle as if waiting to peal out a last ring; an abandoned general store…

Solution to Mountain Peoples' Hardship - Move Them to the Plains

In the next two years the Peoples' Republic of China will relocate 350,000 people in the Ning Xia Hui Autonomous Region. These days the national news from China is about the business- and profit-oriented policies of Deng Xiao Ping, and how they have transfigured the country. The local news in the Ning Xia Hui Autonomous region, however, tells a different story. The primary concern in this small…

Mountains Need Home-Grown Medicine

There is a problem in the Himalayas potentially more dangerous than the spiraling poverty and environmental degradation. It is that poor scientific research and inappropriate solutions may make the situation worse. This was the warning of many of the 55 scientists and policy makers at the second Mohonk International Mountain Conference last April. "Myth, poor data, and gross generalization"…

Mountain People - A Searcher's Guide

In this issue Cultural Survival focuses on mountain people - a subject that only takes shape after some initial turning and prodding, because "mountain people" is the kind of catch-all term which tends to fall apart when you take a close look at it. First, not all people agree on what a mountain is. For example, the people in Nepal's middle mountain region are well-situated in full beholding…

Mountain Minorities and Ecological Change in the Himalayas

In temperate-zone mountain systems throughout the world, the migratory life of shepherd communities is threatened. The pastoral life is marginal to dominant cultures and economies around it, and vulnerable to processes of ecological deterioration. Throughout most of the arc of the Himalayan mountain region, subsistence is rooted in the limited, fragile resources of the mountain's alluvial valleys…

Illness and Political Economy - The Andean Dialectic

Throughout Andean history, two themes pull at cross-purposes. One is adaptation, which combines agricultural innovations with a social organization that emphasizes principles of complementarity and reciprocity - a pattern that binds people, resources and regions. It serves to ameliorate the consequences of climatic unpredictability, ecological diversity and (by European standards) marginal…

Ethiopia's Policy of Genocide Against the Anuak of Gambella

In October 1985, the Ethiopian government reported that 17,553 heads of families from Tigray had been resettled to unoccupied "virgin, fertile" lands in the Gambella region of Illubabor Province in the extreme southwest of Ethiopia. The fact that these lands are the traditional homelands of the Anuak people is not mentioned in the government's announcement, nor has this point been a major source…

Development and Resource Management - Mexico's Huichol Carpentry Workshop

Four main tributaries How through, the Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico's state of Jalisco carving precipitous canyons several thousand meters deep; the sandy soils of the surrounding mountains allow a forest composed largely of scrub oak and pine. Until quite recently, this combination of formidable terrain and poor soils allowed the resident Huichol Indians a rare, and for them desirable…

Coping with Austerity in Highland Bolivia

By almost any reckoning, Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. More than half the population comprises Quechua- and Aymara-speaking people, of whom the majority are peasant farmers in the altiplano (high Andean plateau) and intra-Andean valleys. Although they produce most of the domestic food supply, they are among the most undernourished people in the country. The Quechua and Aymara…

Aymara Indians - Adaptation and Survival in Southern Peru

Until recently, anthropologists routinely characterized the Aymara of the altiplano (high Andean plateau) around Lake Titicaca in southern Peru as almost pathologically inflexible and fatalistic. Yet during the last few decades, these people, who live in a flood- and drought-prone region at an altitude of 12,500 ft., have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Since…