Lords of the grassland
The Khampa are a proud nomadic population living predominantly on the eastern side of the Tibetan plateau. They have been known for centuries as skilled traders and great travelers and periodically travelled as far as Chinas southern Yunnan region, as well as Vietnam. Always in the quest for new pastures, they move erratically through a huge territory commonly defined as Kham never residing in the same location for more than a few months. Their homes are well-crafted handmade tents centred on a fire which functions as central heating and kitchen. During the night the tents provide shelter and protection to baby yaks, along with the family, in order to guard them from wolf attacks. The Khampa rely on their nomadic lifestyle to survive, but also on yak breeding. Khampa believe deeply in Lamaism and in the power of chanting the mantra "Om mani pad meum". Often their nomadic wandering is guided by epic pilgrimages to sacred Tibetan spots, undertaken by entire families and groups. This proud ethnicity is well known to western governments, who took note of them as the only ethnic group to stand in defiance of the Chinese invasion and subsequently provided them with the financial and military backing of the CIA in an effort to quell the spread of communism. This arrangement lasted until Nixons visit to the Peoples Republic of China in 1972, the first visit by an American President. Immediately after, the USA stopped their funding and the Khampa were forced to surrender to Beijing, a move opposed even by Dalai Lama who fancied a more peaceful solution. Today the Khampa have been reduced to a dwindling population, denied their mobility and forced into a more sedentary lifestyle. Governmental migration policies which support the relocation of ethnic Chinese to remote but resource rich regions of China have also led to the subdivision and sale of acres of the lands the Khampa once freely roamed. This coverage gives visibility to this proud and ancient population, physically marred by elevation, harsh climates, conflict and the disempowerment of the lost rights to their motherland and way of life.