Guidebook The mountain people are resilient survivors


The mountain people are resilient survivors

The French called the Central Highlanders montagnards (“mountain people”), explains Claire Boobbyer at Wanderlust. Meanwhile the Vietnamese call them nguoi thuong (“highland citizens”) or, more disparagingly, moi (“savages or slaves”). Tensions between the Montagnards and the government “stem back to before the war,” writes Travelfish, and when the Vietnam War erupted the Montagnards “found themselves caught in between the North and the South,” before being recruited by the American Special Forces. “They were colloquially known as the Yards, and were admired for their fighting skills, bravery and loyalty.”

When the US withdrew from Vietnam their situation was “disastrous,” says Boobbyer, and with “most of their villages destroyed or occupied, they became refugees.” And although much of their land alongside the Truong Son Mountains has been “devastated by Agent Orange and deforestation,” on the untainted land, “amid flourishing plants and trees,” ethnic minorities carry on regardless.

Gong is the “spiritual voice and the soul” of the Central Highlands ethnic groups, says Living Nomads. “Local people to express their joy or sorrow in their daily life,” and gong is often performed on special occasions such as the Gong Festival (held annually in five provinces: Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong); elephant racing at Don Village (held annually in March at Don Village, Buon Ma Thuot); and the Spring Festival from January to March in ethnic villages of the Central Highlands.

  • Guidebook