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Kachin State

Kachin state, where the majority of residents are members of the Kachin ethnic group, is home to a strong, separatist movement, led by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO). The organisation opposes the military-backed government and a de-facto state of war exists between the two parties. For many years, the KIO has acted as an autonomous local government, controlling most of the state, where it manages public order and economic development.

Kachin State accounted for only under 3 percent of Burma's population in the early 1980s, including many plains Burmans and Shans. The Kachins have never been bashfid about making themselves known as willing to fight hard to preserve a certain amount of independence from Burmans, Shans, Chinese, and even the invading Japanese in World War II. Inhabiting the northeast border area of Burma, they have historically preferred the hills to the plains, but some have also left the mountains to become wet-rice farmers in civilized fashion.

Kachin State is featured basically with the plain mountain ranges and a lot of summits, big tree forests, cool clear brooks all silence. It's approximate area is 34,379 square miles. Being on an average of 3,000 ft above sea level, the eastern portion of Kachin State possesses the couching of Inmaikha and the Malika, the two tributaries to form the Ayeyawady river. The largest natural lake in Myanmar named Inndawgyi, 40 miles long, 70 miles broad lie on the upper region of the Moekaung river in this lake. Myitkyina is the capital of Kachin State.

The Kachins, the Shans, Azis, Mine Thars, Liphaws etc are the nationalities living in Kachin State. Kachins who are one of the union nationalities have seven ethnic branches whose traditional dances are different to each other. There are five dances of Manaw dance performed auspicious occasions. Lawaw San Waysan dance performed for the occasion of celebrating World victory and Sum wat, Junpaw is a traditional dance performed by Lachees of Kachin nationalities are famous.

Of all the minorities in Burma, the Kachins have the greatest reputation for resorting to arms to assert what they believe are their rights. The British discovered this when they tried to pacify the area, which some say was not firmly under Pax Britannica until the 1930s. A few years later the Japanese found it impossible to conquer the area. Since independence, the Burmese government has done little better; the Kachin Independence Organization and elements of the insurgent Burmese Communist Party have located in the north, where it was possible to maintain contact with both militant Shans and China.

Kachins (known more accurately as Jingphaws, Marus, or Lashis) have never had Shan-style small kingdoms but have created loose groupings of village chiefs who have acted in concert when mutual interest has been served. Prone to avenge wrongs, Kachins have often feuded. They have also exacted safe-passage fees from trade caravans moving through their territories. Before colonial times they traded in slaves across the northern expanse of Burma. In their attitudes toward plains people, the Kachins may certainly have appreciated the more complex civilization below them, but they also felt a certain pride in being mountain people. The British army recruiter Major C.M. Enriquez, who much admired the Kachins, was given the following Kachin statement in the 1920s: "I feel my own size up here .... In Mandalay I am only as big as my finger. In solitude everyone is important. A crowd is a herd of small people." Such an attitude might be said to epitomize the feelings of most hill peoples.

Christian missionaries long worked in the Kachin hills, but without the degree of success they had expected. During British rule, missionary schools could be used for a bid for language skills and social contacts, which some Kachins developed to become leaders of nationalistic causes. The traditional Kachin religion is deeply related to their intimacy with the mountains and a combination of their hunting concepts and hill agriculture. The religion also provides a symbolic explanation of their complex kin, marriage, and feasting systems in which those who aspire to the most status have to validate themselves by giving elaborate feasts at which wealth is redistributed for increased prestige. The fate of traditional Kachin culture, like that of all hill peoples, was little known outside of Burma.

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Page last modified: 10-05-2013 18:56:36 ZULU