As a matriarchal society, Karen women are the cultivators and “owners” of rotation farming, the main source of income for this group of indigenous people in northern Thailand.
Meanwhile, men do the heavy lifting, like cutting trees and building huts on each plot of land.
However, as more people are moving to cities, fewer hands are left for farming, weakening traditional practices, according to Prasert Trakansuphakon, a Sgaw Karen, who flew halfway around the world, to speak at the 2018 UN commemoration of Indigenous Peoples Day.
With so many on the move, this year’s theme, focusing on indigenous migration, struck a chord — not only with his clan, but also the other Karen clans living in Thailand, known as the Plong Karen, Kayah, and Pa'O.
Mr. Prasert described some of the traditional Karen practices to Liz Scaffidi.