Representatives from eight of Yunnan Province’s ethnic minority communities, including the Jinuo (基诺), Derung (独龙), De’ang (德昂), Achang (阿昌) and Jingpo (景颇), recently met with journalists to share their views on cultural tourism and put forward their suggestions for promoting and preserving minority languages and folk culture.
Jingpo representative Duan Mei (段梅) pointed out that due to social progress and the economic development of minority regions, even those living deep in the mountain areas are becoming increasingly exposed to foreign cultural influences and marriages between ethnic minorities and Han are not uncommon. As a result, many children are growing up without learning how to speak or read their native language and traditional ethnic folk culture is gradually dying out. She was concerned that not enough was being done to protect and promote minority cultural heritage in the face of rapid urban development. Duan Mei highlighted the fact that while one can find signs and instructions in Chinese, English and other foreign languages at train stations, airports, shopping arcades and other public places, very few places provide services in minority languages.
In Duan Mei’s view, Kunming (昆明) is Yunnan’s cultural capital and can therefore be seen as China’s and the world’s window on the province’s ethnic diversity. She argued that minority culture and folk traditions are Yunnan’s key selling points and that establishing an “ethnic culture street” in Kunming would be an excellent way to teach others about the cuisines, cultures, and folk traditions of Yunnan’s ethnic minorities. This, she explained, would not only help develop Yunnan’s cultural and tourism industries but would also go a long way in promoting and preserving minority cultures and traditions for posterity.
The representatives also called for the provision of bilingual education in ethnic minority regions and the development of websites in minority languages.
Author’s Note: This is a summary translation of the original article, which can be found here. Please note that I am not a professional translator or archaeologist so there may be errors in my translation.