2011, High Himalaya
In the words of Cat Vinton:
The Himalaya is an extraordinary place – it has an ‘energy’ I’ve felt nowhere else… Crossing boundaries and merging the cultures of five countries.
I’ve travelled across the high Himalaya with one of the last nomadic caravans of the world - the Dolpa Pa people of Nepal (possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done.) The Dolpo Pa pursue a biannual journey; they are the bloodstream of the Himalaya. These high altitude traders transport life’s essentials across the mountains, pursuing the ancient grain-salt trade, between the Drok-pa of Tibet and Rong-pa of Southern Nepal. I have witnessed the incredible people of Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and India - deep in the Himalayan peaks. These people and mountains have a huge part of my heart.
In contrast - the people who call the ocean their home - living with the last of the sea nomads in the Mergui Archipelago – take another huge part of my heart. I have a very special connection with these people of the Andaman Sea.
To witness the last nomadic days of these cultures - is the whole reason I am on my journey.
I have a curiosity for human nature and for the people who have so far escaped the long reach of today’s world. I am in search of the World’s remaining Nomadic Souls. These people roam the farthest corners of the earth - living in the wild – in rhythm with nature. They travel lightly on the land and they leave no mark. I am fascinated in this fragile connection between humans and nature.
My ambition is to create a visual legacy of our common humanity through this disappearing way of life, to remind us that there are other ways of living and that we have a duty to protect our fragile planet. As well as creating a memory for the next generation of nomads who may not witness their nomadic existence.
Indigenous people are facing huge challenges: climate change, government restrictions, border controls, aggressive assimilation policies, authorities compromising their freedom, cultures and natural disposition, replacing it with dependency and isolation. They continue to display a resilience that is humbling and inspiring.
Nomadic life is disappearing, despite their willingness to adapt, their irreplaceable knowledge and the fact that these people have loved and nurtured their land and ocean for generations and are best placed to protect it.
Cat's work depicting the lives of the nomadic Sami reindeer herders can be seen here, on Subject Matter.