Today, the Tamang people live mostly along the Nepal-Tibetan border. They still suffer from a legacy of decades of marginalization from Kathmandu. To make matters worse, the Tamang people of Langtang Valley were among the hardest hit by the April 2015 earthquake. Apart from losing many loved ones, the Tamang people of Langtang Valley do not even have proper homes to live in. Life is made more difficult due to inadequate access to healthcare, work, technology and schools. The young ones are moving to Kathmandu for work, leaving an aged population behind. The Tamangs of Langtang are truly a dying breed.
In late February, I set out with my colleague, Victoria Garcia, to the town of Mundu in Langtang Valley to talk to the Tamang people to better understand their hardships.When we got there, we realized that the biggest problem was not any one of the issues previously mentioned, but rather what all these issues together produced: a loss of hope.
As we came to understand their issues and culture better, we thought of some action that can be taken to revive their lives again. First, we must reinforce these modern buildings with their traditional architecture, and in return, contribute to preserving the Tamang culture. We must also teach them the skills necessary to build back their communities and find gainful employment.
Further, we must encourage the younger generation to return from Kathmandu to help, as the elders of villages like Mundu cannot do this alone. Moreover, one major aspect of rebuilding the resilience of this area and culture is the development of tourism. Before the earthquake, Langtang Valley was considered Nepal’s third main trekking site; now the industry is suffering in this area. Proper shelters must be built to house trekkers and awareness raised to revitalize this area and open it back to Nepal and to the world.
The Tamangs are as much a part of Nepal as any other people. They have a shared history and have contributed to the identity of Nepal as we know it. Nepal needs them as much as they need Nepal. The preservation of Tamang culture can begin with Mundu’s revitalization.