Article Ethnic strife

NebrHogger

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While posted to Cam Lo, I stood daytime watch occasionally and had a good view of the goings on around that place mostly related to the open air market. Besides the Vietnamese who lived in Cam Lo, a few km away was a community of H'mong. I'm by no means an ethnologist, but they were clearly a separate ethnic group from other Vietnamese. Much higher cheek bones for one thing.
They seemed to be a very close knit community not unlike a tribe.

They all dressed in similar fashion - women wore a turban and a long wrap-around skirt that reached from their waist to their ankles. By way of individuality, they wore such jewelry around their necks & in their ears and nose as each deemed stylish.

Around their waist was a cord or light strap used to hold a small machete. I don't recall if they wore any kind of sandals... I don't believe they did. The memory that they went bare breasted clearly remains, though.

Also common to the women was the small clay pipe they held in their mouth with the bowl upside down. As well as I know, they smoked the vile-smelling weed that passed for tobacco in that part of the country.

The men worked as mercenary scouts - mostly for American special forces. Their usual dress was cast-off uniform bits with little regard where it originated. They were most often gone, leaving the women to raise income by cutting brush they made into charcoal they sold at the open air market.
North of Cam Lo and north of Rte 9 was a "free fire zone", meaning anyone seen was fair game to be shot on sight. But while on patrol if we saw H'mong women chopping brush, they weren't fired upon because their presence was a good sign the enemy wasn't around.

They would chop brush for most of the day, and each woman would carry an impossibly large bundle back to their village for conversion to charcoal. When they had a sufficient quantity, that would be carried to market in immense burlap bags... strapped on their backs.

It was quite a sight to see the women trudging along, stoically bearing their load and smoking their small clay pipes. Even what appeared to be young girls smoked. Actually the crowd en route the market was predominately young. I imagined the older women remained behind to watch camp and occasionally stir the rice.

Also watching the procession were Vietnamese children of the village, but they weren't interested in cultural differences - they were out to start trouble. For some reason there was a lot of racial tension between the Vietnamese and H'mong.

When the H'mong women reached Cam Lo within sight of our post, the Vietnamese kids would begin heckling them - mostly by cursing and shouting racial epithets. (calling them monkeys was a popular insult) Being used to such things, the women methodically plodded along, largely ignoring the young boys. Hoping to further anger the women, the boys would also spit at them or throw rocks.

This was when things got interesting. Many of the boys seemed interested in having the rocks they threw strike one of the women or girls on a breast which was no doubt quite painful. If so struck, the women would occasionally respond by throwing rocks at the boys... which could turn into a vicious brawl with Vietnamese mothers joining in.

On one occasion I noticed a girl who appeared to be a teen ager walking on the side of the road closest to the hecklers. Barefoot, she carried a large burlap bag of charcoal which had her bent at the waist to keep her balance. I don't know if one of the boys - who didn't appear to be a teen ager - meant to snatch the skirt from her waist to impress watching Americans or steal her machete, but he darted toward her with arm outstretched.

With the reflexes of a cat, the girl caught the boy's arm, holding so tightly he couldn't pull away. She then shrugged off her load of charcoal, threw the boy to the ground and began beating him.
And I mean it was an unmerciful beating! Pinning both his arms to the ground with her knees, she fiercely struck every part of his face with her clenched fists. The other women had stopped to gather around her, calmly smoking their pipes and appearing to offer advice on how best to cause the little idiot more pain.

One must have suggested she put a finger in his eye because that's what she seemed to do. The boy's reaction of screeching like a branded monkey also indicated that. With such pain and that the girl was becoming tired from administrating the beating, the boy was able to squirm free and dashed away like the proverbial 'pin striped primate'.

Other boys must have gone into the village to report the matter for here came several mothers, and then the fight was on! Hearing the commotion, our Lt came out to see what was up.

"No matter what happens, do NOT interfere, and lock the gate!"

Village police soon appeared to sort things out, and it took a lot of time to restore calm. Eventually, the H'mong girls shouldered their bags of charcoal and on to the market they went.

I didn't stand day watch too often and don't know what happened the next day. I have heard of such brawls that ended in gunfire when H'mong men appeared to even the playing field.

To this day I've no idea what caused such racial animosity.


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Fascinating read!
It sort of reminds of accounts from coalition soldiers deployed to the Balkans and Afghanistan, who were often told not to intervene in "local affairs" that all too often included hideous abuse and unlawful executions. It's gotta be one of the worst days of your life having to just stand there, possessing the means to put an end to the outrage but being banned from doing so.
 
While posted to Cam Lo, I stood daytime watch occasionally and had a good view of the goings on around that place mostly related to the open air market. Besides the Vietnamese who lived in Cam Lo, a few km away was a community of H'mong. I'm by no means an ethnologist, but they were clearly a separate ethnic group from other Vietnamese. Much higher cheek bones for one thing.
They seemed to be a very close knit community not unlike a tribe.

They all dressed in similar fashion - women wore a turban and a long wrap-around skirt that reached from their waist to their ankles. By way of individuality, they wore such jewelry around their necks & in their ears and nose as each deemed stylish.

Around their waist was a cord or light strap used to hold a small machete. I don't recall if they wore any kind of sandals... I don't believe they did. The memory that they went bare breasted clearly remains, though.

Also common to the women was the small clay pipe they held in their mouth with the bowl upside down. As well as I know, they smoked the vile-smelling weed that passed for tobacco in that part of the country.

The men worked as mercenary scouts - mostly for American special forces. Their usual dress was cast-off uniform bits with little regard where it originated. They were most often gone, leaving the women to raise income by cutting brush they made into charcoal they sold at the open air market.
North of Cam Lo and north of Rte 9 was a "free fire zone", meaning anyone seen was fair game to be shot on sight. But while on patrol if we saw H'mong women chopping brush, they weren't fired upon because their presence was a good sign the enemy wasn't around.

They would chop brush for most of the day, and each woman would carry an impossibly large bundle back to their village for conversion to charcoal. When they had a sufficient quantity, that would be carried to market in immense burlap bags... strapped on their backs.

It was quite a sight to see the women trudging along, stoically bearing their load and smoking their small clay pipes. Even what appeared to be young girls smoked. Actually the crowd en route the market was predominately young. I imagined the older women remained behind to watch camp and occasionally stir the rice.

Also watching the procession were Vietnamese children of the village, but they weren't interested in cultural differences - they were out to start trouble. For some reason there was a lot of racial tension between the Vietnamese and H'mong.

When the H'mong women reached Cam Lo within sight of our post, the Vietnamese kids would begin heckling them - mostly by cursing and shouting racial epithets. (calling them monkeys was a popular insult) Being used to such things, the women methodically plodded along, largely ignoring the young boys. Hoping to further anger the women, the boys would also spit at them or throw rocks.

This was when things got interesting. Many of the boys seemed interested in having the rocks they threw strike one of the women or girls on a breast which was no doubt quite painful. If so struck, the women would occasionally respond by throwing rocks at the boys... which could turn into a vicious brawl with Vietnamese mothers joining in.

On one occasion I noticed a girl who appeared to be a teen ager walking on the side of the road closest to the hecklers. Barefoot, she carried a large burlap bag of charcoal which had her bent at the waist to keep her balance. I don't know if one of the boys - who didn't appear to be a teen ager - meant to snatch the skirt from her waist to impress watching Americans or steal her machete, but he darted toward her with arm outstretched.

With the reflexes of a cat, the girl caught the boy's arm, holding so tightly he couldn't pull away. She then shrugged off her load of charcoal, threw the boy to the ground and began beating him.
And I mean it was an unmerciful beating! Pinning both his arms to the ground with her knees, she fiercely struck every part of his face with her clenched fists. The other women had stopped to gather around her, calmly smoking their pipes and appearing to offer advice on how best to cause the little idiot more pain.

One must have suggested she put a finger in his eye because that's what she seemed to do. The boy's reaction of screeching like a branded monkey also indicated that. With such pain and that the girl was becoming tired from administrating the beating, the boy was able to squirm free and dashed away like the proverbial 'pin striped primate'.

Other boys must have gone into the village to report the matter for here came several mothers, and then the fight was on! Hearing the commotion, our Lt came out to see what was up.

"No matter what happens, do NOT interfere, and lock the gate!"

Village police soon appeared to sort things out, and it took a lot of time to restore calm. Eventually, the H'mong girls shouldered their bags of charcoal and on to the market they went.

I didn't stand day watch too often and don't know what happened the next day. I have heard of such brawls that ended in gunfire when H'mong men appeared to even the playing field.

To this day I've no idea what caused such racial animosity.


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the photo and the dress are not hmong but ethnic minority in central highland , Hmong mostly live in northern Vietnam and lao + they are more civilize ( fully cloth and more complex patern on they skirt / shirt ) they also much lighter skin ( while ethnic minority in central high land are darker more south east Asian ) Vietnam have 54 ethnic and let say old Vietnamese are pretty racist ( if you don't know Vietnamese was not native to central and southern Vietnam , we conquer those from cham and Khmer and other ethnic minority and in our ancestor view those guy are barbarian ( Vietnam was heavy influence by china ,anyone that not follow east Asian culture = barbarian and in need of civilize aka sinic ) they are racist most vs southern ethnic minority ( northern not much cause look same , lighter skin hard to diffirent + they been living with each other for milienium , while southern ethnic minority like the lady in your photo half nake , look diffirent , darker skin , waving hair = alien = get a lot more racist . but thing diffirent now day communist made everyone the same in 70-90s :) not to mention a lot of this central highland serve and fight alongside us so the govt care a lot about them but they are also the most backward ethnic in Vietnam ( most primitive compare to southern Khmer ethnic / cham ethnic or northern ethnic minority ) so it only until recent that a lot of bad habit tradition are abandon aka if a mother die of sick , her baby will be left with her to die ( which Vietnamese who live near them found out will have to pay a pig to pray to god to rescue the kid either send the baby to govt house or adapt them , cause the ethnic minority in central highland wont take them in )
 
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Vietnamese hmong
and this is a ede ethnic ( central highland but much more develop ethnic ( full cover and more complex society then the one in your photo , Im not sure what ethnic they are , cause now day the ethnic minority in central highland don't left they breast open like that and they wear modern dress ) her name was hhen nie and was miss Vietnam ( cause abit of noise like the mix black and japanese lady in japan win miss japan , some say she doesn't present Japanese ( same thing was say by some racist Vietnamese that hhen nie don't present Vietnamese ( but tks god it is much smaller in Vietnam then in japan who complain the black Japanese girl being miss japan ) hhen nie was a favor by most Vietnamese she show Vietnam is a diverse country and also show how a poor girl , from one of most poor ethnic minority and less develop manage to go to university , got the ball to live in ho chi minh city ( Saigon ) and manage to success
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she the diffirent skin tone of hmong ( a northern ethnic vs ede one of many central highland ethnic minority )
 
and this is Vietnamese ( or if we talk about ethnic kinh a term shortern of kinh do = capital in English , was creat in the feudal time to diffirent Vietnamese from ethnic minority of mountain and champa )
photo of Vietnam last empress nam Phuong
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a high school
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a junior high school class ( grade 9 )
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elementary kid
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Fascinating read!
It sort of reminds of accounts from coalition soldiers deployed to the Balkans and Afghanistan, who were often told not to intervene in "local affairs" that all too often included hideous abuse and unlawful executions. It's gotta be one of the worst days of your life having to just stand there, possessing the means to put an end to the outrage but being banned from doing so.
the central highlander are pro Vietminh and later north Vietnam ( communist ) so maybe the Vietnamese who live up there ( that time mostly family member of ARVN soldier and officer /govt , not much Vietnamese have move up there , it only after 1975 that more Vietnamese ( from north - south -central ) move to central highland ( which ironic creat a very diverse dialect , you have some people speak southern dialect some central some southern ;) ) maybe that the reason the kid and mother threw rock at them beside being racist , central highland in 1975-2000 was like the wild west where southern/central/northern move there to creat farm land built new life ( btw not only Vietnamese ( kinh ) move there but there also hmong ethnic from northern Vietnam and Nung and tay , thai , muong ethnic move there after 1975s
 
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