Revised 12 Aug 2007




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 main thrust of Montagnard Foundation, Inc. is to bring specific human-rights grievances to the attention of the international communities.  The aims of Montagnard Foundation, Inc. is to identify areas for the improvement of the Degar people both in terms of Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as per the United Nations Charter for Human Rights and relative Covenants, with special emphasis on non-violence and protection of  Degar people; consequently, pressure the Vietnamese authorities for their redress.

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




Who are the Degar People?

The Degar people are the indigenous people of the Central Highland of Vietnam for many thousands of years.   Originally inhabitants of the coastal areas of the region, Degar people were driven to the previously uninhabited mountainous areas by invading Cham and Vietnamese  beginning prior to the 9th century AD.

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

Montagnard is the French word refers to our people during their colonization of our lands from 1895-1954.
The Degar is the combination of two words: DE = Dega people and GAR = all tribes .  The word Degar refers to all  Dega people.  The word of Dega and Degar refer to the same people. However, Dega literally means the Sons of  the Mountains, Degar means all the Children of the Mountains.

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Please tell me when and why MFI uses  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 the 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 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 "x hơi ". On the contrary, the word DEGAR can be written in singular or plural.

In the pass we were so quickly to accept what people called us or referred us.  It's time that we call ourselves what is acceptable to us.  If it is up to the Vietnamese they rather refers to our race as the minorities or moi (savage).  In Vietnamese language their is no word that end with strong R sound like Degar language, so they pronounce GA instead of GAR.


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What is Montagnard Foundation, Inc.?

Montagnard Foundation, Inc, is a non-profit organization solely dedicated to the advancement of the universal human rights of the Degar people, also known as Montagnard, who are the indigenous people of Central Highland of Vietnam. Based in South Carolina, USA Montagnard Foundation, Inc., was formed to protect the Montagnards/Degars still in the Central Highland of Vietnam and to preserve their remaining culture.


What is the purpose of the 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.


  What has Montagnard Foundation, Inc. accomplished to date?

Montagnard Foundation, Inc. activities include, among others: Various communication efforts to raise the awareness world community about the atrocities committed against the Degar people including property damages, murders. We have voiced our concerns in person with the United Nation. We will continue our awareness-raising efforts by meeting with more world leaders. Spearheaded a petition drive to urge the the United Nations' human rights organization to:   

  • Strongly condemn the human rights violations by the Vietnamese  

  • Pressure the Vietnamese government to participated in international meeting

  • Return the properties back to the Degar people.

Since the large scale of demonstrations of Degar people in early year of 2001 and on Easter of 2004, Montagard Foundation, Inc. has been working very hard to bring awareness of Degar people's struggle for their right to the attention of the international communities.

Please check our latest press release to see more about MFI up to date accomplishment


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.





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