Guidebook Life is challenging for the ethnic minorities

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Life is challenging for the ethnic minorities

The indigenous ethnic minorities of the Central Highlands are known as the Montagnards, explains Travelfish, which was the term coined by French colonialists meaning “mountain people.” Tensions between the Montagnards and the government stem back to before the American war when the Montagnards “found themselves caught in between the North and the South,” before being recruited by the American Special Forces where 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 and with most of their villages destroyed or occupied, they became refugees.”

The ethnic minorities “have as much in common as they do differences,” notes Frommers. The M'nong, the Ede, and the Bannar, among others, mainly live in villages of “thatched single-family houses arranged around a central communal longhouse (called a nha rang in Vietnamese) raised on stilts at the centre of town, where all ceremony and governance take place.” Many hilltribe groups celebrate harvest time or auspicious occasions with the ritual slaughtering of a buffalo, “a frenetic event soaked in local whiskey and accompanied by wild dance.”

Since the war there has been “a remarkable religious transformation,” writes The Diplomat -- an estimated 300,000 out of the 1 million ethnic Hmong in Vietnam are now Christians. “Over time, the social, economic, and political impacts of religious change -- from persecution and migration to lifestyle changes and new gender relations -- are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.”

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