The young Montagnard generation in the U.S. is using art and social media to keep their culture alive
After immigrating to the U.S. at age 9, Hthu Nie spent years denying who she was.
After immigrating to the U.S. at age 9, Hthu Nie spent years denying who she was. Nie, who is Montagnard, an ethnic minority indigenous to Vietnam’s central highlands, told her classmates she was Vietnamese, not trusting they’d grasp the nuances between the two. “I was like, ‘I’m in America now,’” she said. “I didn’t think it was such a big deal.” It was only when she entered college that she began to question why she was “erasing [her] own culture.”
Nie, who graduated in 2021 and will start nursing school in the fall, has become an outspoken proponent for the preservation of Montagnard customs and traditions. Like many Montagnards her age, she feels a profound sense of urgency as heir to a “dying culture,” the survival of which she believes falls on her generation’s shoulders.
These young leaders have made it their mission to ensure their heritage — rooted in persecution due to their alliance with the U.S. during the Vietnam War — is passed on.
Across social media, their efforts are evident.
In one TikTok video, three friends dance in handwoven embroidered clothing for the #cultureoutfitchallenge. Set to the viral chords of Jawsh 685’s "Laxed," they each take a turn to theatrically sway for the camera.