Slow Road to China, Drew Dogget

In September 2009, I embarked on a photographic study of a remote, extremely undeveloped part of northwestern Nepal called Humla-and of the remarkable people who live there. They are a wonderful mix of grit and warmth, humility and pride, innocence and wisdom. For centuries, the Himalayas have walled them in, shaping and preserving their way of life.

Humla residents consider themselves the last remaining guardians of pure Tibetan culture. As modernity beckons, however, more of the region’s youth are leaving home. One thing I found in abundance, in these communities that make do with so little, was a firm sense of identity. It was my intention to capture this in my images—the strength of that sense, the pride the people of Humla take in the niche that they and their ancestors have carved out for themselves. It’s modest, yes, but it belongs entirely to them. Looming in the background of these photos, however, beyond the snowy peaks, is the very real possibility that future generations, assimilated into the Western world, might forfeit the rich and unique traditions cherished by their elders. Either way, these time-worn traditions are treasures worth documenting.

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