The Virtual Hilltribe Museum is a project of the Mirror Art Group of Chiang Rai, Thailand to document the rapidly changing cultures of hilltribe people in northern Thailand. While countless volumes have been compiled about the touristically popular hilltribe cultures, almost all of these works have been written by Thais or Westerners and, therefore, carry the bias and mistakes of an outsider. The Virtual Hilltribe Museum is the work of the tribal people themselves.

While conventional wisdom holds that technology destroys traditional culture, we believe that empowerment of minority cultures via media and technology is essential for their survival. The Virtual Hilltribe Museum is a forum to stimulate interest and educate all people interested in learning about hilltribe cultures - Thais, Asians, Westerners, and hilltribe alike. As designers of the website - from photographs to content to HTML layout - the members of the hilltribe.org team have accepted responsibility to represent truth and priority as seen from the point of view of a tribal person. While most of the English parts of the website have been translated, those who can read the Thai version of the website are reading the voice of the tribal people themselves.

The Virtual Hilltribe Museum is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The Director of The Hilltribe Virtual Museum Online

Pharisudha Sudhamongkol ( Moo)

She is a Bangkok people who would like to spend a time from the rest of her life to make a benefit for the people around her. She would like to do the best for her work and everyone.

E-mail : moo@bannok.com

The staff of the Virtual Hilltribe Museum Online. .

Atee Chermeu - Akha

Not so long ago, Atee was much like the other Akha boys in this picture. But ever since coming to work for hilltribe.org, Atee has purchased a shirt, a jacket, and a hat. Beyond his flare for haberdashery, Atee is a natural leader and coordinates the data gathering team for www.hilltribe.org. Atee hails from Ban Apa, one of the last traditional Akha villages in Chiang Rai.

E-mail : atee_bannok@yahoo.com

srattha Jasee (Yasae) - Laba Lahu

Despite dressing like a Black Thai guy in this picture, srattha is pure Lahu. srattha 21, is the son of the Dtobo (shaman) of Ban Jalae.
Though having finished only the ninth grade and never having touched a computer before starting on this project, srattha has shown a great aptitude for computer programming. He's also a really good cook.

E-mail : somchai2526@hotmail.com

Phatiphan Ayi

He is an Akha from Sanjaroen, vavee, Maesuay, Chinagrai. His name is Phatiphan but friends here call him Ayi. Ayi is his surname and he don't know the reason that why friends here call him Ayi. He takes respond on the traditional activities and writes the article, the research.

E-mail : tagoona_yi@hotmail.com

Khampol Sukaew ( Tonzung)

He is Karen from Doitao, Chinagmai. He is a traveler and goes to everywhere that he would like to visit with his bicycle. He rides a bicycle from Phangnga to here, The Mirror Foundation. He does everything that he can. He has to visit hilltribe.org website before to be a volunteer in this project. He takes respond on the website system.

E-mail : ton@hilltribe.org

Salakchit Kaewkham (Land)

She graduated from Ramkhamheang University . She is not the activities person but she know that she do not want to be a government man or work in the company. The first job that she works is a NGOs and she did not change the way that she walk to other lane.

E-mail : landcard_s@hotmail.com
 

Volunteer of the Virtual Hilltribe Museum Online. .

Jamu Jakar - Red Lahu

First thing's first, his name isn't really Jamu. It is more like Ja-mmm, and, no, you won't be able to pronounce it correctly. So, just for the sake of argument, let's call him Jamu. Jamu has a few superpowers. He can consume prodigous amounts of rice, he throws an American football farther than any Asian we have seen, and if you want to get on motorcycle to a remote mountainous village during the rainy season, Jamu is your man.

E-mail : jamu007_4@hotmail.com

Kamonthip Saelee (A-sa) - Lisu

Don't even act like you aren't impressed by A-sa's costume. You are, because, you see, impressing people is what good Lisu girls do. They impress with their clothes, they impress with their tenacity, and, as in A-sa's case, they impress with the way that they can curse like a sailor. OK, so maybe the last one isn't true, but at least there is no denying A-sa's fire-in-the-belly. Before you get in an argument with her, you better come prepared. A-sa comes from Doi Lan village in Mae Sruay, between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

E-mail: lee2694@hotmail.com

Bawornsak Chermuer (Akoh) Akha

Akho, he is the youth from Apha village. He has a computer skill and has knowledge about the account from the school but it useless for him because he has Polio. He can not apply and get any jobs. The Mirror Foundation gives a chance for him to come to work and he can give a profit to the community that he live. He is an accountant of this project and administrative also.

Jakathae.

He is a Lahu from Huay NamRin village, Viangpapao, Chinagria. He comes to work with the Hilltrib.org on 2006 sine he attend the competition on the Film festival. He is the team member of the hilltribe.org from that time. He takes responsibly on the community research by make it to the video product. When he finished his work, he will show the ceremony or the performance that he record or collect from the village to the villagers.

 

Previous Officers and Volunteers

Jon Morris (Jon) - American

This is a website about highland ethnic minorities in Southeast Asia, right? Yeah,so...um, what's the white guy doing here? Well, that's a good question.

Jon came to Thailand in January 1999 with the United States Peace Corps. After two years of sitting motionless in a suffocating government primary education office in Tak province, Jon had ingested enough Thai language and peeled fruit to move to Chiang Rai. Jon has been working with the Mirror Art Group ever since.

Nongluk Pituktammanat (Lak) - Thai (Hakka Chinese)

Lak first came to the Mirror Art Group in 2000 on a five-day Volunteer Teacher trip where she stayed with an Akha family in Ban Aja village, the home of the two other girls in this picture. Since then, she finally became fed up with her life working at IBM and came to work here full-time. Now, out of Bangkok, she relishes the clean air and quiet pace of Chiang Rai. She also has an unusual liking for the movie School of Rock.

 

Arthit Gatu (Lek) - Karen

Hi. My name is Lek. Don't pay attention to me. If you will just look the other way, I will go about my business of stealing this small Lisu child. Nothing to see here.

But, before you go, I should mention that I am a good singer. I even have my own band of Karen boys. We rock.


Laosan Saefong - Mien

Miens are polite people and Laosan is exceptionally polite even by Mien standards. Lao is always willing to help, whether it be carrying Lak's bag or wearing Atee's hat for him, Laosan is quick to volunteer.

Laosan can also speak Chinese as many of his relatives are Chinese. The Chinese represent another of the major cultural influences in northern Thailand.

 

Pachara Saefung (Ann) - Mien

For people struggling to feed themselves, arts are usually a hobby one can not afford. Fortunately, Ann was selected to attend Mon Saeng Dao, a special school for tribal girls in Chiang Rai. There, freed from the burden of subsistence farming, she was able to develop artistic and literary skills. At seventeen, Ann shows great promise as a writer.

Ann has worked on both segments of this project, contributing to the website and helping decorate the Hilltribe Life and Culture Center in Ban Jalae.

 

Amporn Saeree (Yee) - Hmong

If you held a contest to see what person in the world has - pound-for-pound - the most moxie, it's pretty clear that it would come down to a battle between Yee and Asa, each tipping the scale at about 37 kg., yet each positively teeming with moxie.Yee has a bachelor's degree in physics. I'm not entirely sure whether she got that degree because she likes physics or because she was tired of hearing Thais say that Hmongs were stupid and uneducated. It could be either, really...


 

Lao Yang (Lao) - Hmong

Lao is yet another example of how adaptive and impressive tribal people can be, not only in their milieu of the mountain jungle, but in any environment in which they find themselves. Lao was born in a Thai refugee camp to illiterate Laoatian farmers and immigrated to America when he was five. Now he is at the top of his chemical engineering class at North Carolina State and in the process of applying to medical school.

Lao came to Thailand in the summer of 2004 to investigate his roots and help give the Hmong-American perspective to our work, specifically the resettlement of Hmong refugees from Wat Tham Krabok to Hmong communities in the United States.

If you would like to see what Lao Yang saw when he came to Thailand, click here.

Tom Saephanh (Ou) - Mien

It is an amazing world in which we live. None of us in Chiang Rai have actually ever met Tom, yet from his Sacramento, California home he has been helping us with the English translation of the Mien part of our website.

Tom was born in Laos and learned Thai in the refugee camps in Thailand after the Indochinese war. Later he was emigrated to America where he became fluent in English. In addition to Mien, English, Thai, and Lao, Tom also speaks some Mandarin Chinese.

Learn more about Tom on his homepage.