Shidong, Guizhou
No matter what, nobody can take away the dances you’ve already had. ~ Gabriel Garciá Márquez 

A young Miao girl dressed in colorful, embroidered garments and elaborate silver jewelry celebrates Sister Festival (姊妹节) along with other local Miao women in Shidong, Qiandongnan Prefecture, Guizhou. Sister Festival is both a state-sanctioned event with political overtones and a traditional cultural festival that is a favorite amongst local Miao children for its group dancing, singing, drumming, and feasting. The category “Miao” is a complex label that was once a pejorative for all indigenous groups in the area along with “man” (蛮) and “yi” (夷) meaning “barbarian” in Mandarin Chinese, but was refined over time to distinguish between local populations. After 1949, Miao was officially recognized by the majority Han-Chinese state as one of 55 minority ethnic groups defined according to the Marxist-Leninist ideology of nationalities. Qiandongnan is a multi-ethnic prefecture in southeastern Guizhou province that includes Dong, Yao, Zhuang, and other “minority nationalities”.

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