Sunday, August 16, 2009


Only two ethnic groups in Southeast Asia still represent the food gathering mode of life. The Austronesian Semang who live in Southern Thailand and Northern Malaysia, and the Austro-Asiatic Mlabri who live in the deep forest of Northern Thailand. Physical differences divide these two groups from each other, the Semang are Australiods but the Mlabri are Mongoliods. Semang have black skin and curly hair while the Mlabri are yellow skin peoples with straight hair. Some anthropologists describe that human societies have evolved from hunting and gathering to plant and animal domestication. Others disagree with this unilinear view of evolution and reject the terms savage and primitive because of their degraded meaning. Sporadic reports about the Mlabri since 1919 confirmed their existence in the Northern part of Thailand. Together with other Mon - khmer ethnic groups the Mlabri is classified as indigenous peoples and their culture a heritage of mankind.

Ever since the formation of Thai nation state a hundred years ago the entire population has multiplied and caused the escalated demands on forest resources. The Mlabri cannot retain their natural lifestyles and transcend all these transformations. The Mlabri population in 1998 was only 125 and 102, in Nan and Phrae Province respectively. At present, the scarcity of forest seems to exceed hunting and gathering lifestyles. The Mlabri no longer evade anywhere because the forest areas are now the subject of rights and management controversy. Stakeholders, government as well as rural communities and entrepreneurs strive for forest and its resources. The Mlabri are compelled by the situation to stay in sanctuaries and started practicing tourist business.

Until today the future of Mlabri still unsolved due to different viewpoints of stakeholders. It is an effort to moderate confrontations by establishing responsible committee but the long term development directions are yet uncleared. According to the Thai constitution the Department of Public Welfare suggested that the Mlabri case was a matter of self - determination. To fulfill this principle, access to forest resources in protected areas must be given to this indigenous groups as well as authorized citizenship that brings about rights and welfare. The Mlabri are denoted "Phi Tong luang" by Thai peoples, this name means spirits of the yellow leaves. It pertains to the color of the leaves they use as shelter roofs which are turning yellow when campsite is abandoned. Mlabri is the name they call themselves, it means the peoples of the forest.

0 ความคิดเห็น:

Post a Comment