The Akhas of Thailand is one of the six tribes forming what Thais call as the Hill Tribes. They arrived in Thailand in 1905 with 80,000 now living in Thailand's northern provinces of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai at high altitudes. Their villages are accessible via tour treks provided in Thailand. They speak Akha, a language in the Loloish (Yi) branch of the Tibeto-Burman family.
Akhas are expert farmers. Their agriculture is focused on mountain rice, corn, and soybeans that are planted in seasonal shifts. The Akha are also very efficient hunters, although their prey sometimes includes endangered species. There were a few Akhas that once grew opium for income. Recently, they are benefiting from the revenues in tourisms in the lands they occupy.
Although many Akha, especially younger people, profess Christianity, Akha Zang (The Akha Way) still runs deep in their consciousness. One of the myths they believe is that guardian spirits dwell in ornately carved village gates made of wood. They have en extensive recollection of ancestors going back 15 generations and exhibited in chants. This particularly heavy emphasis on genealogy, proof of which is their strong focus on honoring ancestors and their parents seem to represent a form of ancestor worship, although they deny that this is what they are doing.
Currently, Akhas are experiencing controversies related to human rights and justice. The root of these controversies are the lands they occupy which are rich with timber and very suitable for farming that lends them to the interest of profit-oriented institutions. Another controversy they have is against the government because of their slash and burn agricultural practice. This practice tends to destroy national forests containing native ecosystems.