The young Montagnard generation in the U.S. is using art and social media to keep their culture alive

Culture August 13, 2022 Culture
The young Montagnard generation in the U.S. is using art and social media to keep their culture alive

Montagnard women performing traditional dance.

From NBC News by Elyse Weingarten

After immigrating to the U.S. at age 9, Hthu Nie spent years denying who she was. Nie, who is Montagnard, an ethnic minority indigenous to Vietnam’s central highlands, told her classmates she was Vietnamese, not trusting they’d grasp the nuances between the two. “I was like, ‘I’m in America now,’” she said. “I didn’t think it was such a big deal.” It was only when she entered college that she began to question why she was “erasing [her] own culture.”

Montagnard, which means “Mountain People” in French, is an umbrella term for more than 30 tribes that originally inhabited what is today Vietnam. Ethnically distinct from the country’s Kinh majority, who are predominantly Christian, they’ve been discriminated against for over two centuries. However, it was their fighting alongside the U.S. Special Forces during the Vietnam War — in the hopes of gaining autonomy — that led to their continuing large-scale victimization at the hands of the central government.

Photo by Nhung Budam / Montagnard Dega Association

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