Questions & Answers

The Central Highlands of Vietnam are the abode of the Degar people who not long ago lived in a world that they themselves evolved and sustained.

Long before Cambodia, Laos, or Vietnam became nations in the modern sense, the Degar people, known collectively by the French word Montagnards, lived in this area. After the French turned over government control to the Vietnamese, Montagnard independence was destroyed. The separate Montagnard state was abolished, traditional lands were seized by ethnic Vietnamese, and Montagnard languages were replaced by Vietnamese in the schools. Today the Degar people are in danger of extinction after years of relentless repression and religious persecution.

The following are the answers to the most frequently asked questions by the peoples who visited our web site. If you have any question about our people or our organization, please feel free to send us an e-mail. Click the links below for Questions and Answers.

Who are Degar?

The Degar people are the indigenous people of the Indochina; majority of Degar people are in Central Highland of Vietnam and over 100,000 are in northern part of Cambodia mainly in Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces. More on the topic..

Montagnard Dega, or Degar, are they different group of people?

Montagnard is the French word refers to our people during their colonization of ourlands from 1895-1954. Degar is the combination of two words: DE= Dega people and GAR = all tribes .Theoretically, DEGAR or DEGA is a name referring to same people. DEGA was first used in 60s and 70s, but was not widely accepted because the word sometimes offended members of other tribes; since DEGA is derived from Ede Ga, a name the Ede people called themselves. However, DEGA was a bit more accepted during the 80s and 90s. Nevertheless, during French colonization, the name DEGAR was used in the regions of our territory to refer to our people. Montagnard Foundation adopted the name DEGAR in 1993 and today is widely used internationally in documents and other political arena. Historically, the word AR, GAR derived from other group names, such as, BahNAR, MnongGAR, R’deGAR, or EdeGAR etc..

Our race now is accepted by the world as a distinct people of Indochina, Indigenous people; so is the identity of our people; the name we call ourselves must reflect what we are.

DEGA name sometimes is an amusing word to some people when you refer DEGA in plural term, DEGAS. Degas is mistaken with a name of a French artist, Degas Edgar ( 1834 – 1917, Paris) He was well known as the master of drawing the human figure in motion.
Degas also means “releasing gas” or in Vietnamese “xì hơi “. On the contrary, the word DEGAR can be written in singular or plural.

 

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I have a friend who came from Laos, and he considered himself a Montagnard, so what is the different between his Montagnard and your Montagnard?

When Indochina was under France control, the French referred to all people who live in the highland as Montagnards, which means Highlanders. Highlanders, which include Hmong, Nung, Man, Meo etc. in the northern part of Indochina were referred as Peuple Montagnards du Nord-Indochinois (PMNI,
Montagnard Populations of the North). Highlanders, which include all the Montagnard people in region southern part of Indochina were known as Peuple Montagnards du Sud-Indochinois (PMSI, Montagnard Populations of the South). However, each one of these Montagnard group is different race. Northern Montagnard, like the Vietnamese, were Chinese’s Ethnic Minorities immigrated from southern part of China. Nevertheless, Montagnard people in the southern part of Indochina are the Indigenous people of this region.

Please tell me when and why the word “DEGAR” to refer to your people.

Please tell me when and why the word “DEGAR” to refer to your people. My Degar friend tells me that “DEGA” or “DEGAR” is refering to same people. The VN people use DEGA because most of the VN people can’t say DEGAR with sound “R” since their language don’t have word ending with “R” ?

 

Theoretically, DEGAR or DEGA is a name referring to same people. DEGA was first used in 60s and 70s, but was not widely accepted because the word sometimes offended members of other tribes; since DEGA is derived from Ede Ga, a name the Ede people called themselves. However, DEGA was a bit more accepted during the 80s and 90s. Nevertheless, during French colonization, the name DEGAR was used in the regions of our territory to refer to our people. Montagnard Foundation adopted the name DEGAR in 1993 and today is widely used internationally in documents and other political arena. Historically, the word AR, GAR derived from other group names, such as, BahNAR, MnongGAR, R’deGAR, or EdeGAR etc..

Our race now is accepted by the world as a distinct people of Indochina, Indigenous people; so is the identity of our people; the name we call ourselves must reflect what we are.

DEGA name sometimes is an amusing word to some people when you refer DEGA in plural term, DEGAS. Degas is mistaken with a name of a French artist, Degas Edgar ( 1834 – 1917, Paris) He was well known as the master of drawing the human figure in motion.
Degas also means “releasing gas” or in Vietnamese “xì hơi “. On the contrary, the word DEGAR can be written in singular or plural.
In Vietnamese language there is no word that end with strong R sound like Degar language, so they pronounce GA instead of GAR; Dega (incorrect), Degar (correct). Here are few other words with “R” sound that have been “Vietmanized” by the Vietnamese:

  • Gia Lai (incorrect); Jarai(correct)
  • Ba Na (incorrect); Bahnar(correct)
  • Ca (incorrect); Čar (correct)
  • ect…

 

Degar language, which many Degar Montagnard people speak, is also the language being used by Rade group? When was Rade language created?

In the 1920′s, the Rade language in its written form was created by French educated Rade educators. Some of the characters and symbols in the Rade language were adopted from the French, Spanish, and Czech languages. The Rade language is one of the first Montagnard languages to consist a Roman alphabet. The Rade alphabet contains 20 letters, with the missing being F, Q, V, X, and Z.

Other groups such as the Bahnar, Jarai, Kaho, Mnông and others have written languages that were created during the late 1950s by Christian missionaries and the Vietnamese. As a result, many of these languages arrange their words in a Vietnamese style. Noticeable distinct difference between Rade and others is how a person’s full name is written; for Rade’s group family name is placed after the individual’s given name, other group the family name is placed before the individual’s given name like Vietnamese does.

Since the Degar movement in the late 50′s, more and more people in the Central Highlands are using the Rade language to communicate with each other.

The Rade language has a more clearly defined structure, and more easily adopts words from other languages.

What is the main thrust Montagnard Foundation, Inc.?

The main thrust of Montagnard Foundation, Inc. is to bring specific human rights grievances to the attention of the international communities; consequently, pressure the Vietnamese authorities for their redress.

Click here to understand more about Degar’s Aspiration

Buônmathuôt, Banmêthuôt, Buonmêthuôt. Does each word have different meaning?

 

I recently visited the Central Highland, city of Buônmathuôt. I have seen various spellings of the name, such as, Buônmathuôt, Banmêthuôt, Buonmêthuôt, Banmêthuột, Buônmathuột… In addition, quite a few towns’ names spelled with either Ban or Buôn. What is the correct spelling of these towns’ name? Does each word have different meaning?

Buônmathuôt town has been known as one of the oldest cities in the Central Highland. The town was founded by Y-Thuôt’s father. Therefore, the town was named Buôn ama Y-Thuôt (the town of Y-Thuôt’s father).Buôn Thuôt is name is used by the local Rade people.  As more people settled there, the town slowly became recognized as Buônmathuôt, a trade city with  Laos, Siam (Thailand), and the Malaya-Indonesian region. The town is known by the traders as Banmethuôt. Also, many other towns in Daklak province have Ban such as Bandon (Buôn Don), Ban Dung (Buôn Dung), etc.…

The correct way to spell the town name is:

  • Buônmathuôt – if the word Buôn is used, it must follow with the word ma.
  • Banmêthuôt – if the word Ban is used, it must follow with the word me.

Buônmêthuôt or Banmathuôt is incorrect since the word BAN is not a Rade’s word. The Vietnamese, however, spell the word thuôt as thuột (notice the additional accent on ô)