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

the young montagnard generation in the u.s. is using art and social media to keep their culture alive

Montagnard women performing traditional dance.

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.”

Nie, who graduated in 2021 and will start nursing school in the fall, has become an outspoken proponent for the preservation of Montagnard customs and traditions. Like many Montagnards her age, she feels a profound sense of urgency as heir to a “dying culture,” the survival of which she believes falls on her generation’s shoulders.

These young leaders have made it their mission to ensure their heritage — rooted in persecution due to their alliance with the U.S. during the Vietnam War — is passed on.

Across social media, their efforts are evident.

In one TikTok video, three friends dance in handwoven embroidered clothing for the #cultureoutfitchallenge. Set to the viral chords of Jawsh 685’s “Laxed,” they each take a turn to theatrically sway for the camera.

On Facebook, the nearly 1,500 members of the private group Montagnard Food share cooking videos and post images of classic dishes, such as Trong Phi (bitter eggplant) and beef salad. “We love our foods,” one poster wrote above a photo gallery of traditional cuisine.

Artists, such as Sachi Dely, create work blending history with their life experience in the U.S. Others, like Nie, are pursuing careers that will allow them to directly serve the community.

Since the first refugees arrived in 1986, North Carolina became home to the largest number of Montagnards outside Southeast Asia, with a population that has swelled to over 12,000, most living in the Piedmont Triad area.

Despite this growth, the preservation of Montagnard culture has become harder over the years, in part because of assimilation. And the particulars of the Montagnards’ history mean that their culture isn’t necessarily being safeguarded in Vietnam either — putting their identity truly at risk.

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.

After the U.S. pulled out of the war, the Montagnards were targeted as “traitors” and put in re-education camps as the Communist Party sought revenge. Large numbers fled to the U.S. and Cambodia and, as has been documented by human right organizations, the 1 million that remain in Vietnam continue to be subjected to abuses that include religious persecution, land seizure, imprisonment and forced assimilation.

In 2015, the Montagnard Dega Association (MDA), the Greensboro-based service provider at the center of American Montagnard life, formed a youth branch, with a focus on education and cultural heritage. Offering classes in traditional music, dance and weaving, the Montagnard American Organization (MAO) works to instill the value of Montagnard cultural practices in youth of all ages and involve them in civic life.

Liana Adrong, executive director of the MDA, has noticed that young Montagnard adults have an increased interest in their culture. This is likely in part due to years of the organization’s influence as well as the current ability to share and learn through social media. “The age group in their early and late 20s now are wanting to learn about their culture, about their language,” she said.

According to her, language is integral to any cultural preservation effort. “Without language, without being able to speak, it is hard to find out who we are and then to learn about ourselves.”

Dely agrees. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that French missionaries created an alphabet for the dialects corresponding to each tribe, and the Montagnards have a strong oral tradition. “[In the past], things weren’t being written down, but told through stories,” she said. “I would like the stories to be passed down because they tell so much about who we are as a people and what our tribes did.”

However, keeping Montagnard languages — and stories — alive, at least in their current form, may be a challenge for the younger generation. Parents are often hesitant to speak their native tongue to their American-born children, and though the MDA tries to offer classes, there are few people qualified to teach the languages and a scarcity of materials to use for instruction. Even in Vietnam, where all schools are taught in Vietnamese, the only material used to teach the Montagnard languages is the Bible.

The key to cultural preservation for the Montagnards may come down to recognizing older traditions giving way to modern forms.

Social media is a big part of this, but so is language. In 2019, members of the MOA collectively translated a Vietnamese folktale, “Why Ducks Sleep on One Leg,” into the Rhade and Koho dialects for younger children, with the English printed alongside it.

B&K 2K19, a clothing label owned by two Montagnard sisters, offers both traditional pieces and modern versions of them.

Last year, the MDA funded “The Past is Present: New Montagnard Artists,” a gallery exhibition and two-day event in which practitioners of traditional crafts, such as backstrap weaving and basketry, were paired with younger artists to create works in new mediums. The show was meant to not only promote Montagnard artists and culture, but, as Dely, who participated, explained, to demonstrate that as a refugee community “things that happened to [the Montagnards] a long time ago still affect our generation.”

Although the Montagnards’ struggles and their relationship to the United States are unique, Adrong sees a similarity between the Montagnards and other immigrant and diasporic populations. “I wonder if other Asian American communities are going through the same thing in terms of generation gap and trying to preserve their culture,” she said, adding, [cultural preservation] “starts in the home.”

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Independent Travel celebrates multiple wins at Travel Media Awards

The Independent’s travel team is celebrating a total of four wins at this year’s Travel Media Awards, held on Monday at London’s Dorchester Hotel. Travel correspondent Simon Calder won two ... Read more »

What a view! NASA's Juno spacecraft captures incredibly detailed image of Jupiter's ice-encrusted moon Europa during closest pass in 20 years

The first picture taken by the Juno spacecraft as it flew by Jupiter's moon Europa has been released by NASA Reveals Europa's surface features in extraordinary detail in a region near moon's equator called Annwn Regio The image was captured during spacecraft's closest approach within 219 miles (352 km) of surface yesterday It was the closest any spacecraft has come to Europa since the US space agency's Galileo on January 3, 2000  Read more »

'Mummy, you look so young!' Princess Kate revealed her children's funny reaction to old snaps of her and William while speaking to a well-wisher about her engagement photo in Anglesey

The Princess of Wales shared a heartwarming anecdote about her childrenThe mother-of-three was captured on video speaking to crowds in AngleseyKate, 40, shared that when looking at old pictures of herself and the Prince of Wales there children are surprised at how young the couple look   Read more »

M&S is our go-to for thermals - here are some of the best-selling sets

Best M&S thermals for men and women. (Marks & Spencer) The colder seasons have arrived (rather quickly, might we add) and if, like us, you’re feeling a little underprepared for ... Read more »

€60m Bundesliga star completes Chelsea medical as Blues lay foundations for 2023 swoop

Chistopher Nkunku during a warm-up RB Leipzig attacker Christopher Nkunku has reportedly undergone medical tests ahead of a €60million move to Chelsea next year. The French international penned a fresh ... Read more »

London driver has car stolen, finds it 6 minutes away and drives it back home

A Londoner whose car was stolen claims they found it just six minutes away from their house and went with the police to get it back. The lucky owner claims ... Read more »

Katie Price shares fears over her son Harvey's 'life-threatening' weight but reveals her 'pride' as he loses a stone

Katie Price has shared her fears over her son Harvey’s life-threatening’ weight but revealed he has lost a stone as she documented his health journey. The media personality, 44, took ... Read more »

Letters to the Editor: Newsom was right to veto this dangerous bill on eye surgeries

To the editor: I enjoy George Skelton’s column, and with no disrespect to him — as he concedes that “this kind of medical stuff is way out of my bailiwick” ... Read more »

Pixel 7 price leak shows Google won't budge — and the specs prove it

Amazon price listing suggests Pixel 7 prices are a lock Read more »

Windows 11 22H2 blocked on some systems due to printer issues

Microsoft is now blocking the Windows 11 22H2 update from being offered because of compatibility issues affecting Windows devices with printers using Microsoft IPP Class Driver or Universal Print Class ... Read more »

Letters to the Editor: Americans want big EVs that go far and plentiful charging. So sell us that

To the editor: Bloomberg writer Ira Boudway seems to miss the point on electric vehicle range when he notes that 95% of all trips in the U.S. are 30 miles ... Read more »

Coin effigy of King Charles III unveiled by Royal Mint

The official coin effigy of King Charles III has been unveiled by the Royal Mint. People will start to see the King’s image in their change from around December, as ... Read more »

How to keep warm without having the heating on all day: thermal layers, insulated curtains, draught excluders

How to keep warm without having the heating on all day This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that ... Read more »

Paid day off to reflect on truth and reconciliation? There’s a way to donate those earnings

As Canadians observe the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a Vancouver man is encouraging those who can to donate their day’s earnings to the cause. Joshua Hensman and ... Read more »

Truth and reconciliation an ‘ongoing process,’ Indigenous voices say

Warning: Some of the details in this story may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised. With declaring a national holiday on Sept. 30 only fulfilling one of 94 ... Read more »

PR agency announces menstrual, menopause and miscarriage leave policy

London-based PR agency Lem-uhn announces its menstrual leave, menopause and miscarriage policy as it continues to aim to create a positive work environment. Read more »

Lewis Hamilton optimistic Mercedes will be competitive at Singapore Grand Prix

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is feeling optimistic that they will be competitive at this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix, due to the W13's steady improvement. Read more »

‘Gran Torino’ Producer Double Nickel To Tell Story Of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sister-In-Law In TV Series

Vincent Van Gogh Courtesy of Van Gogh Museum Gran Torino producer Double Nickel Entertainment is forging a limited TV series about the life of Vincent van Gogh’s sister-in-law Jo van ... Read more »

An Oakland school shooting that injured 6 was gang-related, police say

Six adults suffered gunshot wounds in the hail of bullets that rained down on the King Estate complex, which houses four different schools Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday. Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/East ... Read more »

Get Your Coffee Fix With The Mr. Coffee Espresso And Cappuccino Machine With 36% Off

Mr. Coffee Espresso And Cappuccino Machine | $160 | Amazon Mr. Coffee Espresso And Cappuccino Machine | $160 | Amazon Who among us doesn’t love a good coffee in the ... Read more »

Huddersfield veteran Chris Hill earns shock recall to England’s Rugby League World Cup squad

Hill is the chief beneficiary from the absence of St Helens prop Alex Walmsley in Shaun Wane’s squad Read more »

Will Disney's Avatar sequel trigger ANOTHER diversity backlash? James Cameron's sci-fi fantasy to introduce new clan modelled on New Zealand's Maori people

Both Amazon and HBO have recently found themselves the target of racist trolls for including actors of colour in the fantasy worlds of Lord Of The Rings and House Of ... Read more »

Who is winning the legal wars right now, gov’t or opposition? - analysis

SUPREME COURT justices arrive for a hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem last month. The legal wars between the government and the opposition are about as intense as they ... Read more »

Homes still unaffordable for average households despite fall in prices: reports

Homes still unaffordable for average households despite fall in prices: reports OTTAWA — Buying a home has become more unaffordable for Canadians even as housing prices fall, according to new ... Read more »

Hurricane Ian: Homes flooded and roads destroyed as powerful storm wreaks havoc in Florida

Florida governor called the damage in Florida "historic" - and disaster officials believe thousands could be displaced in the long term. Read more »

Euro Zone Inflation Soars to a Record 10%, Piling Pressure on the European Central Bank

Kai Pfaffenbach | Reuters The reading showed price increases broadening out from volatile food and energy prices into nearly all segments of the 19-member bloc’s economy. Energy prices rose 40.8% ... Read more »

First to pay their respects: Royal superfans who were at front of queue to see the Queen lying in state are also at head of the line to see her final resting place in Windsor

Royal fans from across the globe have descended upon Windsor to become the first to visit the Queen's tombAnne Daley, 65, from Cardiff, and Grace Gotharg, from Ghana, were the first in line to go in and view itWindsor Castle was closed after the Her Majesty passed away on September 8 in Balmoral Castle, Scotland Tourists from as far away as Australia were among the mourners queuing to see the Queen's last resting place Read more »

Is the triple lock now under threat? Fears mount after minister refuses to confirm if state pension will be uplifted by inflation

Chief secretary to the Treasury Chris Philp said matter is under considerationLiz Truss has previously pledged to keep the triple lockState pension should rise in line with whichever is higher: 2.5%, wages or CPILast year triple lock was suspended with pensioners receiving a 3.1% increase Read more »

The Villain Joker: Folie à Deux Needs To Add To Its Cast Should Be Obvious

Warner Bros. Pictures “Joker” ends with failed comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) in full supervillain mode. After the main character appears on Murray Franklin’s (Robert De Niro) talk show and ... Read more »

2 Stocks That Could Be Worth More Than Nvidia by 2025

2 Stocks That Could Be Worth More Than Nvidia by 2025 Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) has been a top performer on the stock market over the years, with shares of the ... Read more »

Selena Gomez slams ‘vile’ comments on social media after Hailey Bieber denies ‘stealing’ Justin Bieber

She urged fans to understand that ‘words matter’ in a TikTok Live Read more »

Strictly leaderboard: Who reached the top and who sunk to the bottom in week 1?

First couple will be eliminated from the competition this weekend Read more »

New Coin Designs for Britain's King Charles III Released by the Royal Mint

The 50 pence coin shows King Charles III without a crown and facing left, in keeping with a tradition for each successive monarch to switch profile. The coins will be ... Read more »

Video: Furious conscripts turn on their commander: Top officer 'is beaten after telling reservists 'you are all cannon fodder, you are facing slaughter'' as video shows punch-up in make-shift Russian barracks

Read more »

Grenfell Inquiry: disabled campaigners get legal permission to challenge Government’s fire evacuation plans

Disabled campaigners have secured permission from the High Court to challenge the Government’s failure to implement evacuation recommendations made post-Grenfell. Georgie Hulme and Sarah Rennie, co-founders of disabled leaseholder action ... Read more »

Google Stadia: why it shutting down? How to get a refund for gaming streaming service and what has Google said

Google has announced that its cloud gaming service will be closing down. There had been rumours about the streaming service’s demise ever since its creation, with the company the platform ... Read more »

3 Warren Buffett Stocks With 105% to 137% Upside, According to Wall Street

When Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A)(NYSE: BRK.B) CEO Warren Buffett buys or sells a stock, everyone from professional traders to everyday investors pays close attention. That’s because of the Oracle of ... Read more »

Martin Lewis warns there’s no £2,500 cap on energy bills from October as Truss urged to ‘correct’ statements

Martin Lewis has warned households that there is no this winter. It comes after Liz Truss falsely claimed that nobody in the UK will pay no more than £2,500 for ... Read more »

F1 to stay on Sky Sports until 2029

F1 is the second most-watched sport on Sky, behind football, with an average viewership of 1.7 million this season Read more »

What does a weaker British pound mean for Asian tourists, students and businesses?

The impact of the British pound’s plunge has reverberated across Asia, presenting opportunities but also posing some challenges for consumers and businesses in the region. The pound fell by as ... Read more »
Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network