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In Bhötia Territory
In the village of Muchu, I scramble up a steeply pitched slope, and then climb a network of rough-hewn timber ladders through a maze of ochre adobe buildings reminiscent of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly. There are more than just physical similarities between the Bhötia—Tibetans who settled on the southern watershed of the Himalaya—and the so-called “indigenous” people of North America. In Neolithic times, it is believed these nomads roamed the high Asian plateau before venturing across a land bridge spanning the Bering Strait to settle in ice-free canyons of what is now the American Southwest. According to Peter Gold, an anthropologist who works with the Navajo in Chinle, Arizona, Tibetans also share art, architecture, and spiritual beliefs with the Anasazi—or “ancient ones”—whose animistic practices were similar to the shamanic Bön-po of the Zhang-Zhung Kingdom.
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