The Forgotten People: Indigenous Ethnic Minorities In China Are In Danger Of Fading Away.

The Indigenous ethnic minorities cultures in China are dying before the world barely know their existence.

Chinese government likes to represent the country as harmoniously united under one flag so that people from other countries hardly know about ethnic minorities in China. The fact that China has 55 ethnic minorities that are about 10% of the Chinese population; plus, many other ethnic minorities haven't been recognized in government’s official schema, and most of them live separated from the majority of the Chinese population.


“Our ethnic culture would be disappearing after my generation passed away because less and fewer people who can speak the fluent ethnic language anymore because there is no ethnic language class at school for the younger generation. The Tujia young generation studies Chinese history and literature in Mandarin.” Xiaoping Xie, a folk singer from Tujia ethnic minority, says,

Xie is a 62-year-old Tujia singer who left her hometown to Enshi city for promoting Tujia ethnic culture. She is looking for people who are interested in her Tujia music and could help her make albums for her music because none of younger Tujias are interested in Tujia music.

 “Young Tujia generations don’t want to learn their culture and speak their language because it is not going to help them to make a living.”  Xie says, “being a Tujia singer is not a career, and nobody will get paid them a good amount of money as a folk singer because it is not the mainstream culture.”

The fact is that most talented Tujia musicians are those who left-behind grandparents in half-isolated areas, and they desperately are looking for young cultural heritage inheritors. Unfortunately, most young people left Tujia group to look some other opportunities in cities.

“My life is not easy, and I need to make a living first. If I can’t have basic needs, how can I care about my ethnicity,” says by Zuhui Tian, a Tujia girl work as a restaurant waitress in Shenzhen,

“ The World is changing, and I like Mandarin and English music instead of my ethnic music because I learned that popular music from school. By the way, nobody in cities has any idea about Tujia music ” Tian says. “ The tourism industry made tons of fake Tujia music and art for money, so I don’t find to any point to learn my ethnic music.”

In order to catch more tourists to make the business profitable, fake “ethnic minorities” fantastic art, crafts and merchandise being created. Many businesses involved in producing, importing and selling fake “ethnic minorities” goods.

“The tourism companies are the thieves. They changed some of our folk songs and dance because they don’t know how to make the sound or move like us. They change it because it makes easier for Mandarin speaker sing and dance. They also hire those good looking younger girls who neither are ethnic minority people nor speak the ethnic language to performance for the tourists in the name of the ethnic minorities.” Xie says, “ Basically, they let me performance my song and dance by paying me 3000 Yuan per month, and then they steal my songs and dance from me. They fired me eventually because I am not like those girls who are young and beautiful.”

Tujia Folk song is the Tujia cultural heritage that the ancestors passed over a generation by generation; it’s a platform for people making friends and finding the life partner. Tujias sing instead of talking to make communication. Tujia Folk song is somehow a form of the ethnic poem, academic literature, and religion by the time when the technology hasn’t invented. Tujia dances (Baishouwu, Maogusi) are skills that Tujia ancestors decode into dance to teach their son how to do agriculture. Tujia dance is not as classical as ballet, but you can be a good farmer once you learn how to Tujia Maogusi dance.

Jiangli TianComment