Among the many different ethnic groups in northern Thailand are several so-called hill tribes, each with its own distinct language and culture. The Thai people refer to them as chao khao, “people of the hills.” Most originated in southwestern China; others came from Burma, Tibet, or, later, Laos. Traditionally, most were slash-and-burn farmers. Those recognized as indigenous by the Thai government have been introduced to commercial agricultural techniques and to national education. Nonetheless, the government refuses to recognize them as full-fledged citizens, despite their presence in the country over several generations.
More photos may be seen in the second Hill Tribes gallery, and photos of some of the children are in the gallery titled Young Folks 2.