On the edges of East Africa’s Serengeti National Park, lie some of the most heavily contested lands in Tanzania – the hills surrounding the village of Loliondo. Rich in ecological resources, popular with big game hunters, and sought-after by the tourism industry, this region is home to the pastoralist Maasai. Today, this group is fighting to maintain its cultural identity while keeping pace with the rapid modernization and development of the country.

Loliondo village lies in the Ngorongoro District of northern Tanzania. The vast majority of indigenous residents here are members of the Maasai community of East Africa.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for the Pastoral Women's Council

The Maasai are traditionally a pastoralist people – moving with their livestock seasonally as they search for pasture in the grasslands of East Africa. The group has always maintained a close connection with the wild fauna of the region.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for the Pastoral Women's Council

As their lifestyle shifts towards sedentary animal husbandry, many Maasai in the region have settled into small hamlets with bomas, or livestock pens, as a central unit.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for the Pastoral Women's Council

With a rise in tourism and roads connecting Loliondo to other parts of Tanzania over the past decade, many Maasai are shifting their occupations to serve the growing number of visitors and travelers to the region. This tea and chapati shop serves buses and truck drivers in the village of Malambo.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for the Pastoral Women's Council

Older generations of Maasai still don many of the tribe’s traditional clothing and jewelry. Micro-financed community groups of Maasai women have begun producing these items for trade and sale to outsiders with the help of NGOs in the region.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for the Pastoral Women's Council

Many of the Loliondo women still participate however in other traditional responsibilities such as tending to the home spaces and bomas.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for the Pastoral Women's Council

Elders often do not speak Tanzania’s national language, Swahili, and are only able to pass on their cultural knowledge in the Maasai mother tongue of Kimaasai.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for the Pastoral Women's Council

The issue of language for the Maasai in current times is further influenced by the prevalence of English as a language of trade and business in East Africa alongside Swahili. Many children are taught both languages in school but never formally schooled in Kimaasai in the Loliondo region.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for the Pastoral Women's Council

Children educated in schools must spend long hours away from their families and receive less cultural education from elders in skills such as pastoralism, local history, and traditional religious beliefs.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for the Pastoral Women's Council

The benefits of these Western-style, school-driven educations however allow many younger Maasai of the region to find jobs in larger towns and cities as agriculture proves a less profitable lifestyle for rural Tanzanians.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for the Pastoral Women's Council

As Loliondo's Maasai face changes to their occupation, culture, and education system, many are turning to self-empowerment through community activism. NGOs working with these Maasai help organize public forums organized to discuss their changing lifestyles with local government officials.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for the Pastoral Women's Council