Geography Reference
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consisted of two rooms: a small kitchen with a dirt floor and a hearth where meals were
covered in mosquito netting. A satellite dish sat outside the front door, connected to a small
television in the kitchen, which the children watched from low wooden stools. The roof
was constructed of corrugated metal, a substantial improvement over the leaky slate roofs
on the houses of villagers of even more modest means. The father, a strong, compact man
in his forties, showed me his most prized possession: the family Bible, written in the Lisu
orthography that had been invented by Christian missionaries in the 1930s. 4 He expressed
a measure of pride in his ability to read Bible verses to his children.
FIGURE 4.3 Villagers cross the Nu River by zipline.
Like many of the highland ethnic groups in southwest China—including their closest re-
latives, the Keqin of Myanmar—the Lisu historically practiced swidden agriculture with
minimal inputs, long fallow periods, and communal land tenure managed through kinship
networks.Theyalsorelied ontheharvest ofwildplants andhuntedtheabundantwildlife of
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