Doi Mod is a Lahu Sheleh village situated at the end of a winding road 80 kilometers north of Chiang Mai. The Lahu Sheleh are a sub-group of the Lahu people with unique cultural practices and a distinct dialect. Among the various Lahu sub-groups, the Lahu Sheleh have been steadfast in their respectful resistance to outside influences, adhering instead – on an almost daily basis – to time-honored rituals and cultural practices.
For example, on any given evening in the Jakugu, the village dance circle, a visitor might witness traditional dancing, intended perhaps to heal a sick villager, or to enhance the rice yields, or to honor the bees who pollinate and provide honey and wax.
But change is happening. With the Thai government imposing restrictions – no hunting, no growing of opium, and no changing of village location – villagers have had to adapt. Not only have roads, cell phones, television, refrigeration, and social media arrived, but also lowland cultural traditions. Lahu children now attend Thai government schools, a Buddhist sala has been constructed next to the Jakugu dancing ground, and a Christian church sits at the northern periphery. How has the village assimilated these outside influences? Where will these changes lead?
Answers to these questions are not straightforward. Negotiating outside influences is a daily requirement. Daweyu Hills, as an entity, is committed to supporting Doi Mod villagers as they meet the challenge of preserving their culture while benefiting from the steady flow of new amenities and opportunities.