March 8, 2012
atla-annotated:

Are there any surviving Air Nomads? Is Chong an Air Nomad?
The Air Nomads and their genocide are based on, and a commentary on, the genocide of the Tibetans. Read the blog entries about this: One, two, three.
In canon we never really find out if there are any survivors of the genocide, but look at the hippies:
Chong is wearing something resembling traditional Tibetan clothes.Compare the off-the-shoulder sleeve that is a prominent feature of traditional Tibetan clothing. 
Does this mean there was a population of the Air Nomads that did not live in the temples? Or that Chong and his people are descendents of Air Nomads that survived?
This seems a bit too coincidental, especially taking the pointed conversation Aang and Chong have about being nomads into consideration.
Note: all Air Nomads WERE benders. It has been 100 years. There is no saying what happened to any that survived, or that Chong is even 100% Air Nomad. Keeping your culture when hiding/escaping being massacred is kinda hard. Who knows how much of that survived if they had to hide their bending abilities, and how quickly bending teaching would get lost if that was the case.
That, or he’s an appropriating ass :P

Yeah, my theory is that Chong’s ancestors were Air Nomads, and they had to hide. I remember reading a story about a woman who always lit candles in the closet every Friday, and didn’t know why; she eventually learned that her parents fled Germany and this was what they did to still be Jewish. I think that Chong wears the clothing because it was one of the few things his (grand?)parents could do without drawing the ire of the Fire Nation. Chong picked it up but doesn’t know the history behind what he is wearing.
I’d like to think this is true; it fleshes out the effects of the genocide of the Air Nomads more. Though I wouldn’t put it past the hippies to be appropriating asses.

atla-annotated:

Are there any surviving Air Nomads? Is Chong an Air Nomad?

The Air Nomads and their genocide are based on, and a commentary on, the genocide of the Tibetans. Read the blog entries about this: One, two, three.

In canon we never really find out if there are any survivors of the genocide, but look at the hippies:

Chong is wearing something resembling traditional Tibetan clothes.Compare the off-the-shoulder sleeve that is a prominent feature of traditional Tibetan clothing.

Does this mean there was a population of the Air Nomads that did not live in the temples? Or that Chong and his people are descendents of Air Nomads that survived?

This seems a bit too coincidental, especially taking the pointed conversation Aang and Chong have about being nomads into consideration.

Note: all Air Nomads WERE benders. It has been 100 years. There is no saying what happened to any that survived, or that Chong is even 100% Air Nomad. Keeping your culture when hiding/escaping being massacred is kinda hard. Who knows how much of that survived if they had to hide their bending abilities, and how quickly bending teaching would get lost if that was the case.

That, or he’s an appropriating ass :P

Yeah, my theory is that Chong’s ancestors were Air Nomads, and they had to hide. I remember reading a story about a woman who always lit candles in the closet every Friday, and didn’t know why; she eventually learned that her parents fled Germany and this was what they did to still be Jewish. I think that Chong wears the clothing because it was one of the few things his (grand?)parents could do without drawing the ire of the Fire Nation. Chong picked it up but doesn’t know the history behind what he is wearing.

I’d like to think this is true; it fleshes out the effects of the genocide of the Air Nomads more. Though I wouldn’t put it past the hippies to be appropriating asses.