As the hilltribe society goes through a period of upheaval the highland people are subjected to numerous external influences which threaten to erode their cultures. Problems linked to drug abuse have left the communities weakened and demoralized, but just as damaging can be the daily interactions with lowland Thais. Most Thais are ignorant to the complex cultures in the hillls and refer to the various hilltribes by pejorative names like E-gaw, Maew and Gariang, names suggesting backwardness. In the face of constant belittlement, the hilltribes, in particular their younger members, become ashamed of their own culture, and begin to reject their rich traditions of music and costume for modes of dress and behavior more like those of the lowland people. Finally, Christian missionaries arrive and often persuade the villagers to abandon their ancient spiritual beliefs and customs, further separating them from their traditional ways.
The Community Video Project consists of two parts: the Video Community Archive and Bannok TV. The Archive is an extensive multimedia collection documenting traditional ceremonies, songs, customs, costumes, farming processes, weaving methods and hunting techniques. Bannok TV is a local-access station funded by the World Bank and broadcasting from the Mirror Foundation that informs the community about relevant issues. Using the archive, the Group makes educational documentaries for lowland Thais, allowing them to discover a beautiful culture within their own borders, and is the foundation for an on-line cultural archive of hilltribe life. Most importantly, this project allows the hilltribes to rediscover their sense of pride and identity in their heritage, essential elements in building a strong community.