hill tribes of northern Thailand

The Hill Tribes

Brief background of fair trade producers

Traditionally the tribal people, now refer as fair trade producers Chiang Mai, have supported their families by engaging in slash and burn agriculture, which required them to move their village every few years in search of new fields when old ones lost their fertility. It is now no longer possible for them to continue this semi-nomadic lifestyle, as there are no new places to move on to.

Mainly for ecological reasons the Thai Government now prohibits the felling of trees and clearing of hillside land. Thus, the tribal people are finding that they have less land on which to support their families.

The production and sale of handicrafts is an obvious answer to their problem, and one which does not destroy the traditions of tribal community life. In fact, handicraft production helps to restore and revive these traditions which otherwise might have been forgotten.

Today, seven hill tribes - also known as tribal people or highland people, of Northern Thailand namely the Akha, Hmong, Karen, Lahu, Lawa, Lisu and Mien groups, as well as many tribal women living in Chiang Mai are working together in this fair trade journey.