Letters for October 3, 2007
Just read your excellent article “A Kind of Homecoming” [Sept. 19, 2007; by Amy Kingsley]. Many Americans out of ignorance of the Montagnard culture have dubbed all Montagnards as “Dega,” which is a misnomer. Dega refers only to the Rhade tribe and not to all Montagnards. In fact, the Koho might resent being called Dega. Dega is derived from the Rhade cultural belief that they are the children of Y-De and H’Ga, their “Adam” and “Eve,” and when asked their name by anthropologists they identify themselves as Anak Dega (children of Y-De and H’Ga). The Jarai tribe has a somewhat similar belief, but uses different names. I don’t know the Koho’s cultural belief, but you might find an elder who can tell you; however, most of the younger generation are Christians and do not know their traditional culture. If there is a name that all of the Montagnards might identify with, but translated in their own language may be different is “Anak Cu Chiang” – Children of the Mountains, and sometimes translated as “Sons of the Mountains.” Anak Cu Chiang is both a Rhade and Jarai term. (If you are really interested, I recommend you read Dr. Gerald Hickey’s books Sons of the Mountains and Shattered World.
Hope this has been informative, for I know you want to be correct in your journalism. I spent 11 years in Vietnam, with the exception of 5 years as a POW of the North Vietnamese, most of my time was working with the Montagnards, and have continued working with them upon their arrival in the US. Regards,
Falls Church, Va.
Mike Benge is senior advisor to the Montagnard Human Rights Organization.
Waiting on the world to change
It is a terrible tragedy that this sort of thing still exists [“Hate is not quaint in Jena, Louisiana”; Sept. 19, 2007; by Brian Clarey]. Unfortunately, it still goes on in many Southern and Northern States.
I live in Texas and it is funny how you can stop and take a real good look at the things you see everyday and wonder, “Where has there been any change?” The only change is that there are more steps taken to hide what has always existed. There is still a line and unfortunately, there will probably always be. No matter how much people voice that there is no prejudice still in existence, it is always around depending on the situation. When opinions flare, what is not supposed to be there pops up out of nowhere and that is a terrible thing. I see it everyday at work, at my kid’s school and even in some churches. “When will the change come, we have been waiting for more than a lifetime?”
Hey, man. I don’t know if you remember me but my name is Rayne (pronounced like “rain”) and I talked to you briefly at the open mic at the Garage last week. I caught the article online. Excellent work my man! You did a superb job setting the scene for those who weren’t there and I appreciated the fact that there were no negative comments about the acts that performed. I know some of those guys and they pour their hearts and souls into the songs they play (and in the case of my friends Adam and Shane, the songs they cover) and I’ll be sure to share the article with my friends because I know they’d be interested to see it.
Just wanted to send some props your way. Again, fantastic work. Can’t wait to see what else you’ll be writing in the future.
Take care and rock on,