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Dolpo is a culturally Tibetan enclave in one of Nepal's most remote regions. The Dolpo-pa, or people of Dolpo, share language, religious and cultural practices, history, and a way of life. Agro-pastoralists who live in some of the highest villages in the world, the Dolpo-pa wrest survival from this inhospitable landscape through a creative combination of farming, animal husbandry, and trade.
High Frontiers is an ethnography and ecological history of Dolpo tracing the dramatic transformations in the region's socioeconomic patterns. Once these traders passed freely between Tibet and Nepal with their caravans of yak to exchange salt and grains; they relied on winter pastures in Tibet to maintain their herds. After 1959, China assumed full control over Tibet and the border was closed, restricting livestock migrations and sharply curtailing trade. At the same time, increasing supplies of Indian salt reduced the value of Tibetan salt, undermining Dolpo's economic niche. Dolpo's agro-pastoralists were forced to reinvent their lives by changing their migration patterns, adopting new economic partnerships, and adapting to external agents of change. The region has been transformed as a result of the creation of Nepal's largest national park, the making of Himalaya, a major motion picture filmed on location, the increasing presence of nongovernmental organizations, and a booming trade in medicinal products. High Frontiers examines these transformations at the local level and speculates on the future of pastoralism in this region and across the Himalayas.
“Gurung.” They are thus affined into a larger kinship of bhote and incorporated into the Nepali administrative system with a less Tibetan-sounding surname, like “Lama.” Conversely, some culturally Tibeto-Burman groups have reclaimed their clan and kin names, and rejected caste-based identification, especially since Jana Andolan (“The People’s Movement”), the democracy movement that began in 1990. 21. The Crystal Mountain School, in the Tarap Valley, now has almost 200 students, including
for example, Poudel (2000), who describes a shipment of government rations to Mustang on the occasion of the forty-fifth anniversary of the commencement of diplomatic relations between Nepal and China. Spearheaded by Nirmal Gauchan, a dynamic Thakali politician, leaders from the Mustang District Development Committee and the local VDC have built a road that lorries can now ply south from the Nepal border. The road has already passed the medieval walls of Lo Monthang, the capital of Ame Pal’s
assimilated into communities, married locals, and contributed to the material and cultural wealth of their adopted homes.20 The king of Lo, Angdu Tenzin Trandul, had made great sacrifices on behalf of the guerrillas, even giving them precious statues from his private chapel. Locals felt ambivalence and fear toward the Khampa, their ethnic cousins and coreligionists. Though vestiges of the Khampa presence linger in Dolpo, most of the physical and cultural effects were concentrated in Mustang
resources (cf. Nietschmann 1992). As such, the Plants and People Initiative in Dolpo predicated that Tibetan medicine had “a sense of respect for natural environment formed and reinforced by local religious beliefs” (Lama, Ghimire, and Aumeeruddy-Thomas 2001:9). But the cultural heritage and ecologically based knowledge which amchi embody are under threat: the economic viability of these healing systems is in doubt. As this book testifies, subsistence economies in the Himalayas have been and are
recognition in the crowded arena of “development,” and, most importantly, gain access to international resources. In the proposal subsequently submitted to UNESCO, Dolpo was described as a biological hotspot, home to dozens of endangered flora and fauna, and as a cultural reliquary, a refuge for extant traditional Tibetan culture in the Himalayas.66 It went on to claim: “In addition to serving as a bastion for biodiversity, Dolpo is also the living spirit of the Bön religion; indeed, it is the