WISCONSIN TIBETAN ASSOCIATION
Wisconsin Tibetan Association (WTA) is a registered 501(c)(3) non profit organization established after the arrival of the first group of Tibetan immigrants to Madison as part of the US Tibetans Resettlement project. The Tibetans are honored to join the ranks of Wisconsin’s growing richly diverse population. As a contributing member of Wisconsin our goal is to establish a center to preserve, promote and propagate Tibetan culture for future generations.
Tibet is directly to the north of India and west of China. The Tibetan plateau beyond the Himalayan range has often been referred to as the “Roof of the World”. Tibetan culture and civilization has existed over 2000 years, first ruled by a long succession of kings, and more recently by an incarnated lineage of Dalai lamas. The present Tibetan religious and secular leader is His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who continues to lead his people from his Government -in-exile in India.
CULTURAL AND ETHNIC GENOCIDE
While Tibet enjoyed otherwise peaceful and friendly relations with its neighbors, Chinese communist troops invaded and occupied it in 1959 forcing the Dalai Lama and 100,000 Tibetans to cross over the Himalayan ranges to seek asylum in India, Nepal and Bhutan. In the years that followed, the Chinese Government brutally and systematically destroyed Tibet’s rich cultural heritage to the point of extinction in its native land. The Tibetans are now a minority in their own country.
Following the flight of the Dalai Lama and 100,000 Tibetans in 1959, Western countries such as the United States, Canada and Switzerland have graciously accepted a large number of Tibetans to settle while a large number still remain in India and Nepal. Because of the continuing suppression of Tibetan culture inside Tibet, it is a matter of great urgent humanitarian concern that special attention be given to preserve it outside Tibet.
At the request of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, the United States congress passed a bill in 1990 to allow one thousand Tibetans to immigrate to the US at their own expense with no Government financial assistance, and conditional upon pre-arranged employment. Twenty-one resettlement sites were established throughout the US to bring the one thousand. Without the assistance of the US Government, it would have been a enormous task but the Tibetans already in the country and American friends were able to bring the one thousand Tibetans within the stipulated period.
MADISON TIBETAN COMMUNITY
The resettlement project in Madison was a coordinated effort of American friends and Tibetans under the direction of Geshe Sopa, Professor Emeritus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the abbot of Deer Park Buddhist Center and Monastery near the town of Oregon, Wisconsin. The Madison project initially brought eighty-two Tibetan immigrants to Dane county and, now, with the completion of family reunification the total population is about 400. All of the Tibetan immigrants are fully employed and have become contributing participants in the Madison community.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
Faced with the task and responsibility of preserving their rich and unique cultural heritage, the community is in the process of establishing a learning center for Tibetan children, who are losing touch with their culture. In October 1999 the project for teaching Tibetan language and culture to the younger generation was started, with the kind support of the Dale Heights Presbyterian Church in providing classroom space. With the arrival of a Tibetan dance teacher, formerly of Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), the students are being trained in the rich tradition of various types of Tibetan musical instrument, song and dance. An enormous task facing the community is the establishment of cultural center for events and community gatherings and other activities. Our objective is to raise the necessary funding to achieve this goal.