Rai ruen rom&friends

The Guardians of Our Future:

Why We Care About the Tribes

The tribes pump the nation of Thailand with brilliant color, energetic spirit and artistic diversity. Their exotic languages, dress and rituals make these groups uniquely beautiful. They are hard workers, innovative, and exceptional at living in harmony with the environment. Their way of life is pure and simple. Everything they do accords with the seasons. Their food is sourced locally, from whatever is available. They have a truly sustainable lifestyle. They are excellent examples for us, especially city dwellers. We could learn so much from them. More than anyone, they understand that the land is our lifeblood, and our future. If it’s destroyed, generations will cease to exist. They are the invisible guardians of Thailand’s forests. They look after the hills with compassion and care.

Sadly, the majority of Thais have historically looked upon the tribes negatively. By Thai standards, they were uneducated and uncivilized. This led to them being exploited, and denied a full citizen’s rights by Thai law. Though the contempt has lessened to an extent, today the stigma still remains. The everyday opinion is that these minority groups are an unnecessary burden to the nation, plundering the Thai people’s money, land and resources. They are treated as second-class citizens - often denied higher education opportunities, government jobs, minimum wages, and overall societal acceptance.

Princess Srinagarindra, the mother of our beloved King Bhumibol, lived in a radically different way. While visiting a remote hill tribe during a tough trip, her heart was moved. She walked into destitute villages with a few scattered thatched huts. She saw that the precious people were plagued by illness, hardship and a complete lack of opportunity. Her heart broke for them. As fellow citizens of the human race, she determined to assist and empower them. This started by affording them Thai citizenship and equal opportunities. From 1965 to her death in 1995, she worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the rural poor upon the hills. She deeply loved the tribes. She saw the glimmer in their eyes, the devotion in their hearts, the humanity in their smiles. Because of her sincere love and practical action, they affectionately called her “Mae Fah Luang” - Our Queenly Mother From the Sky.

Her heart was sold out for the tribes. She is our shining example. Following in her footsteps, we desire to do our part. To represent four major tribes and to stand up for their precious people.