Deep in the Northern Himalayan region of the Hindu Kush Mountains live two tribes called the Kalash and Khow. Despite the patterns of an ever-changing world, they have sustained their ancient cultures and traditions since approximately 400 B.C. Due to cultural exploitation and uncontrolled tourism, the ancient customs and traditions are in danger of extinction.

The Kalash and the surrounding tribes are said to be the descendants of the army of Alexander the Great. It seems that the Kalash sustained the Macedonian customs and traditions, while the Khow tribe retained King Phillip’s (Alexander’s Father) love of horsemanship, and to this day still play polo, the game of royalty. (Phillip means lover of horses)

There is not enough flat land for agriculture in the Hindu Kush region. The people live through subsistence farming on mountain terraces, which does not produce enough food for the whole year. There are constant food shortages. The lives of the indigenous people depend on herding livestock, such as sheep and mountain goats. The livestock in turn, depend on the forest. The Forest Corporation of Pakistan has been cutting and selling the forests of the indigenous people for years. The resulting deforestation has caused soil depletion, erosion, and mudslides. Because of the vanishing forests, the centuries-old traditional lifestyle of the indigenous people is also disappearing.

We request that the Forest Corporation immediately return our ancestor’s forests, sacred hills and pastoral sites to the local people.