|A long journey covering centuries and thousands of miles has brought the Akha people to Thailand. Originally from the Tibet and Mongolia areas, they have been forced to migrate as refugees of war and drug related activities, with up to 400,000 people of this tribe settling throughtout Southeast Asia. They face a variety of issues, including and not limited to denial of citizenship, disenfranchisement, forced relocation, the lure of drugs, illiteracy, lack of even basic medical assistance, and as you will see in this gallery, conversion to Christianity by foreign missionaries. The village seen here, near Chiang Rai, still retains some of its culture and the lifestyle is still immensely rural.
I had been to this village a few times before, and was invited back to photograph an X-mas that incorporates both elements from newly introduced Christianity and strong vestiges of traditional Akha culture. Here are the photographs of an X-mas unlike any other I have known, an X-mas in Akha country.