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INA House – Indigenous Asia, Chiang Mai

INA House

The INA House, an ethnically based NGO, is a local non-profit in Chiang Mai whose funds go toward the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). The INA House creates revenue through providing rooming accommodations, entertaining a rentable meeting room and library, and selling indigenous handicrafts and products alongside offering unique meals from the highland tribes all over Thailand.

INA House INA House

The only workers employed by the INA House are passionate indigenous people impacted by this program who are fighting for their rights. It is located riverside, directly off of Lampun Road with an inconspicuous building front, and open daily from 8am to 8pm.

INA House INA House

I had the amazing opportunity to listen to a presentation on the INA House background and its relationship with the AIPP projects, which truly opened my eyes to the dedication and resilience of its workers. Its goals are to promote and defend the rights of the indigenous people in the 11 countries in Asia which it operates; Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chiana/Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. They advocate and campaign for environmental issues, indigenous women’s rights, human rights, communication development, and regional capacity building. 

INA House

The INA House helps to educate indigenous peoples as to the rights afforded to them that they may not be aware of, global issues that are unknowingly impacting them, and helps them navigate these issues by using traditional knowledge. One of the current projects is concentrated on expanding indigenous knowledge of climate change. Since shifting cultivation, a traditional agricultural technique, has been banned, many are struggling with food security and reliable income. Not only this, but local knowledge is being lost generationally. This problem is exacerbated by the depreciating number of traditional crops that can survive in increasing temperatures.

INA House INA House

INA House DSC_0644

The food they sell features the Naga, Akha, Lisu, Chakma, Karen, and Marma peoples traditional dishes. They also have organic honey and coffee beans for sale on the first floor. A large selection of handmade bags, baskets, and clothes were available for purchase at reasonable prices considering the quality and effort put into them. With free wifi and computer services, this little shop is a delicious and comfortable way to support a worthy organization. I expected a rather run down and underfunded business, as the term non-profit often implies that basically all funding goes towards the impoverished or disadvantaged people.

INA House INA House

However, the building the INA House rents from is in really incredible condition, with polished log and rock walls, multiple stories, and outdoor balcony seating. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the INA House, and definitely intend on returning for adventurous foods.

 

Written by: Grace Van Kirk

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