The only time I saw Montagnard villagers during my Vietnam tour was at LZ Buttons (Song Be). Perhaps the group was brought in from the jungle for questioning. I remember how primitive they all looked.
The real natives of Vietnam were the Montagnards. All they needed were a grass hooch, a banana tree, and a crossbow; they didn’t give a damn who ran the country.
Montagnard village during the Vietnam War
Photo courtesy of Jordan Green
In the final days of the Vietnam War in 1975 and immediately following, 1,000,000 Vietnamese refugees were evacuated from Vietnam and resettled in the United States. And in keeping with a 1960′s promise, 150,000 Hmong tribesmen of the US “Secret Army” in Laos were evacuated to our country in 1975. Yet only 3,000 Montagnards, our most distinguished and loyal ally, have reached the U.S.
The Central Highlands of Vietnam is the ancestral homeland of the Montagnard tribes, a peace loving people with an ancient tradition of living in harmony with nature and the cosmic forces. But their great forests and rich lands became a battlefield for communist ambitions and opposing powers, compelling their involvement in two successive wars that raged for nearly three decades.
Physically, the Montagnards are darker skinned than the mainstream Vietnamese and do not have epicanthic folds around their eyes. In general, they are about the same size as the mainstream Vietnamese.
Group of Montagnards are lining up for inspection