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 Lesson 11: The Sherpas and the Thakalis

0081Kevin.jpg (106004 bytes) Welcome to the EverestNews.com Lesson plans developed by Kevin Cherilla ( base camp manager of the NFB 2001 Everest Expedition and 7th and 8th grade physical education teacher from Phoenix, Arizona) and the staff at EverestNews.com, the largest mountaineering publication in the world.

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The Sherpas and the Thakalis (Click here to find out about Sherpas and Thakalis.) 

Objective: The students will list three unique characteristics of the Sherpas and the Thakalis. The students will locate on a map of Nepal where the Sherpas and the Thakalis live.

Guided Practice:

1. Review material on the Newars and the Tamangs from yesterday's lesson. Point out where they reside on the map of Nepal. Have two more students give their report on the ethnic background of their own family.
2. Either read the information on the Sherpas and the Thakalis to the class or have each student read it independently.
3. Locate on the same map of Nepal that was used in yesterday's lesson where the Sherpas and the Thakalis people live. Discuss the unique characteristics of each of these cultures.

Independent Practice:

1. The students will read the paragraphs on the Sherpas and the Thakalis and answer the questions.
2. On the same map of Nepal that was used yesterday, the students will locate and color code where the Sherpas and the Thakalis people live.

Optional Extensions:

1. Have the students research typical clothes for the Sherpas and the Thakalis. Draw what these clothes might look like (use color) and share with the class.

Reading and Questions:


The people who live in the highest parts of the Himalaya Mountains are called Sherpas. The majority of the Sherpas live in the central and eastern portion of the mountains. The word "Sherpa" means a mountain guide, a title many Sherpas have earned through experience.

Primarily, only the Sherpas that live near Mount Everest are very successful at mountain guiding and can earn enough money to live comfortably. Many of the Sherpas who guide the Everest treks also have family that might run a hotel or restaurant in a nearby village. The Sherpas' body does not suffer the great effects of high altitudes that the rest of the people endure. For this reason, they are used in Everest expeditions to carry heavy loads of supplies for the climbers.

Religion plays an important role in the Sherpa life. Buddhist prayer flags are seen hung outside the homes of Sherpas. Hanging the prayer flags are said to bring happiness, long-life and prosperity to the person who planted them. Monasteries and temples are found in most every Sherpa village with festivals and celebrations in the months of June – August.


The Thakalis people live in the northern territory of the Kali Gandake River. The Thakalis have been extremely successful entrepreneurs for centuries. Originally, the Thakalis people invested in trading between Tibet and India. Ultimately, the Thakalis branched out and are now prosperous in a variety of areas, construction, politics, business, education, the arts, and literature.

The Thakalis villages are broken down into smaller family groups called dighur. The dighurs pool all of their resources together and select one person among the group to make decisions for the rest. When all the people in the dighur have been in the leadership position, the group is disbanded. The whole idea behind the dighur is absolute trust in your leader. Conversely, the leader is totally consumed with the responsibility for feeding the dighur.

Many of the Thakalis people are small farmers who grow barley and potatoes. Some Thakalis will invest in yaks, which are a tremendous source of food, clothing, and milk.

1. What are some unique characteristics of the Sherpas and the Thakalis people? Be able to list three interesting facts.
2. Why do the Sherpas make such excellent mountain guides?
3. What are some ways Thakalis people use yaks?


Lisa Choegyal, Insight Guides Nepal, Langenscheidt Publishers Inc., New York, 11378, p. 83.

AZ State Standard - SS3 E5 Describe natural and human characteristics of places and use this knowledge to define regions, their relationships with other regions and their patterns of change, with emphasis on:

PO 1 common characteristics of regions at local, national and international scales on the basis of climate, landforms, ecosystems and culture.

PO 2 patterns of climate, landforms and ecosystems in a region.

PO 4 the concept of region and how and why regions change.

PO 5 relationships and interactions among regions

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