Accessibility links

Phnong Minority Find Themselves on National Mall

With its Mekong River culture theme, this year's Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall included an appearance by several women of the little-understood Phnong hill tribe.

The Phnong women brought with them traditional handicrafts, including scarves, blankets and bags and gave onlookers a rare glimpse into the small tribe.

Mane Yun, a young Phnong girl from Mondolkiri and local coordinator of the Indigenous Phnong Handmade Textiles group, said she came to help other people understand her culture.

Her people had lived in the past on very little, dependent on the forest for everything: herbs for medicine, food and the honey and resin they collected for sale, Mane Yun said. They subsisted on the cultivation of highland rice.

Nowadays, there are 21 Phnong youths with higher education. Some are doctors or lawyers, but they still speak their own language, she said.