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Montagnards - Viet Nam

Last modified: 2018-06-09 by randy young
Keywords: viet nam | vietnam | stars | montagnards | khmer mountain tribes | montagnard dega | front unifié pour la libération des races opprimées montagnard | bajaraka moveement | elephant | crossbow |
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About the Montagnards/Dega

There are the multiple names assigned to this community. "Degas" is certainly not the proper one, it should be rather either "Dega" or "Degar" with the latest probably the most accurate one. "Montagnard" is also acceptable. The Degar's organizations are all located in the U.S. (mostly in North Carolina, where majority of Montagnards live).

The best way to untangle the history of these people and the chronology of the transition from BAJARAKA thru FULRO to the organizations in North Carolina is to start with the Montagnard Foundation especially the statement of its president, Mr.Kok Ksor.

Other links: | mdadega | montagnards page
Chrystian Kretowicz, 26 May 2008

Khmer Mountain Tribes

[Khmer People (Viet Nam)]
image by Jaume Ollé

The Flags of Aspirant Peoples lists this as 164. "Khmer Mountain Tribes - Central Vietnam, war flag." Identical to above image.
Ivan Sache, 16 September 1999

Montagnard Dega Association

[Montagnard Dega flag]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 25 May 2008

This is a flag of the Montagnard Dega Association in Greensboro, NC, and dates from 1987. The flag was supposedly adopted as a symbol of all Dega (Montagnard) people. The Association was set-up with the help of the former Green Berets, who, as you probably know, admired the courage, fighting abilities, loyalty and the love for freedom of their former comrades-in arms during the US Special Forces involvement in South East Asia. It was to help the Dega (Montagnards) to settle and organize in America and to publicize the plight of their compatriots left behind in Viet Nam and Laos. The meaning of the colors and symbol is:
  • -Green - mountains and forest
  • -White - peace and honesty
  • -Red - blood and struggle
  • -Elephant - gentle and powerful
Chrystian Kretowicz, 18 July 2002

In response to the query about the gap in the yellow ring on the flag of the Montagnard-Dega Association of Greensboro, NC: the yellow ring represents a Montagnard bracelet (often referred to as 'kong' or 'kong te') which has a gap in it. Most veterans who served in the Vietnamese Central Highlands wore them as signs of friendship with the Montagnard people.
Neil Olsen, 14 July 2012

There is another version of the flag at where it is a green-white-green triband rather than a green-white-red tricolor.
Ned Smith, 30 November 2007

Movement for the Unity of Ethnic Groups of South Viet-Nam

[Montagnard flag]
image by Chrystian Kretowicz

The 1987 flag of Dega Association in Greensboro, NC, which is supposed to be the flag of all Dega people, was obviously modeled after the earlier flag used in South Vietnam during the war. The significant difference might be the removal of the yellow, Vietnamese, color from the Greensboro flag. Thomas A. Cseh & John Sylvester Jr tell us about the earlier flag:
The Ethnic Development Ministry of the RVN (Republic of Vietnam) government established an organization to rally support of minorities for its anti-Communist campaign. Known as the Movement for the Unity of Ethnic Groups of South Viet-Nam, this body had a song and flag of its own. The traditional culture of the Highlands region where the minorities were concentrated was symbolized by the head of an elephant, said to stand for prosperity and peace. The head and the ring around it were white, a color representing love, the ring suggested unity between the minorities and the Vietnamese ethnic majority. The flag had equal stripes of green (top), yellow, and red. These stood respectively for the mountains and jungles of the Highlands, the Vietnamese national color, and the spirit of common struggle on behalf of the fatherland.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 6 February 2003

This organization and its flag are also mentioned in the text from Francia Vexilla which is reproduced at the page "Flags of Vietnam: New Discoveries" at TTXVA website (no longer online, saved at the Internet Archive): This is an additional evidence for the existence of the Movement for the Unity of Ethnic Groups of South Viet-Nam as a separate organization.
Tomislav Todorovic, 25 December 2016

This flag is also used by another organization-"Save the Montagnard People,Inc." with addresses all over the Eastern U.S. and run also by the former Green Berets.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 26 May 2008

Front Unifié pour la Libération des Races Opprimées (FULRO) Montagnard flag
Unified Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races

[Front unifié pour la Libération des Races opprimées]
image by Ivan Sache

The other flag mentioned, the green one with the multipoint star, is a flag of the Khmer Mountain Tribes, associated with the Kampuchea Krom movement, who were part of the Dega dominated alliance in the later 1960s - FULRO - United Struggle Front for the oppressed Races.

FULRO, in turn, developed from the purely Dega organization from the early 1960s - the BAJARAKA Movement. Its name is derived from the names of 4 main Dega tribes: Bahnar, Jarai, Rhade and Koho.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 18 July 2002

[Front Unifié pour la Libération des Races Opprimées]
image by Ivan Sache and Tomislav Todorovic, 14 August 2014

The black field was originally blue, which symbolized the sea, but was later changed into black to symbolize the minorities' loss of coastal areas and restriction to the inland mountains, which were represented by green color. Central stripe was red, to symbolize the struggle of three ethnic groups (Montagnards/Degar, Chams and Khmer Krom) which were represented by three white stars.

[1] Forum Vietnam - topic about the FULRO:
[2] Presentation of a book about the FULRO in French:
[3] Image (possibly scanned) of the original flag of FULRO:
[4] Photos of the later flag of FULRO and a pin with the same pattern:
Tomislav Todorovic, 14 August 2014


[BAJARAKA movement]
image by Ivan Sache

The flag of BAJARAKA Movement was often erroneously attributed to the Chams (Champa) in the various vexillological sources. The real flag of the Chams is correctly depicted on the FOTW page. It is a flag of FLC - Le Front pour la Liberation de Cham, which was also included in FULRO in the later 1960s, together with Degas (Montagnards) and Khmer Mountain Tribes.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 18 July 2002

Erroneous reproduction

[BAJARAKA Movement erroneous reproduction]
image by Tomislav Todorovic, 14 August 2014

The main source responsible for mis-attribution of this flag to Chams might be Roberto Breschi's website ( which attributes it to the "Republic of Champa." However, the design shown there might be more correct than the one which usually appears, because the green quarter of the disc is certainly better recognizable against the red field than against the green field, with which it would actually merge and produce a rather meaningless design - four-colored disc obviously represents four main Montagnard ethnic groups - Bahnar, Jarai, Rade (Rhade) and Kaho (K'ho) - from whose names the word BAJARAKA is derived.
Tomislav Todorovic, 14 August 2014

M'Nong Bu-dang

[Flag of the M'Nong Bu-dang people]
image by Chrystian Kretowicz

The flag of Mnong (a.k.a. M'Nong Bu-dang) people. They are highlanders of the so-called Montagnards tribes of Mon-Khmer origin. 60,000 in Viet Nam and 20,000 in Cambodia. Once part of the mighty Champa Kingdom. Notable for the extraordinary skills in domestication of elephants. During the turmoil in Viet Nam, members of FULRO alliance. Supposedly, one star in the FULRO flag is dedicated to them. For taking part in the Vietnam war on the wrong side, persecuted severely by the Socialist Republic. Many fighters and families repatriated to the US. They used the "green flag with a five-pointed white-outline star similar to that of Morocco, the five points represented the five districts of the Mnong area." (Thomas A. Cseh & John Sylvester Jr - The Flag Bulletin #190 1999). The similarity of their ethnic flag to the Moroccan one can be explained by the presence of the large numbers of the Moroccan troops in the Highlands during the French Indochina wars of 1950s.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 6 February 2003

Montagnard Foundation, Inc.

[Flag of the M'Nong Bu-dang people]
image by Olivier Touzeau, 28 April 2007

The UNPO page about Degar-Montagnards people displays a flag I had not seen before.

It appears to be the flag of the Montagnard Foundation, Inc. According to the UNPO page:
The Montagnard Foundation, Inc., (MFI) is a private, non-profit, non-membership corporation based in the USA. The MFI objective as a liberation movement in exile is to preserve the lives and the culture of the indigenous Montagnard/Degar people. The strategy of the organization is to monitor, restore and safeguard the human rights of the Montagnard/Dagar people.
Olivier Touzeau, 28 April 2007

This is the flag under which the Degar/Montegnard were admitted to UNPO in 2007.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 26 May 2008

United Montagnard People

[Flag of the United Montagnard People]
image by Tomislav Todorović, 2 May 2018

United Montagnard People (UMP) is an organization of Montagnard/Degar diaspora, based in the USA. Its flag is divided vertically: blue at the hoist, charged with a large white five-pointed star, seven green and six white horizontal stripes in center, and plain red at the fly [1, 2]. This is clearly derived from the flag of the Front for the Liberation of the Highlands, but with the modifications which must be influenced by the USA flag: number of stripes, omission of crescent and placing the star on blue field. There is some variation in star size, as well as in relative width of green and white stripes, with the former being wider than the latter [3], but the design is generally as depicted here [i.e. in the above image]. While the flag use by the UMP is positively verified [3], it is also increasingly being used as a symbol of Degar in general: in many cases, it is not quite clear whether the flag is used strictly by the UMP [1, 2] and there are also recorded examples of its use which seem not to be related to any particular organization, such as the photo of Degar-Amerigan rapper Mondega, alias Bom Siu, who seems to have used the flag exactly as the ethnic symbol [4].
Tomislav Todorović, 2 May 2018

[1] website - report on the Conference on Champa 2017:

[2] Conference on Champa 2017 - Facebook photo gallery:

[3] YouTube - Rong Nay, President of the UMP, reading the joint statement of the Council of Indigenous Peoples in Today's Vietnam:

[4] diaCRITICS website - Mondega’s "For the People" - A Montagnard Hip-Hop Debut:

United Montagnard Republic

[Flag of the United Montagnard Republic]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 30 March 2016

Not sure if this flag is known or appears on FOTW - I was unable to locate it but haven't time for an extended search right now so posting this image in case it may be of use.
Jason Saber, 29 March 2016

The Montagnards (French for "mountain people" or "mountaineers") is a heterogenous group of native minorities in Vietnam. The photos shows an obviously Vietnamese language sign above the flag.

This flag is about 3:5 (maybe 7:12) with seven horizontal stripes and a canton: The inner four stripes are white and the outer two are green while the middle two are red (that is: green-white-red-white-red-white-green) and the canton, squarish and taking up 5 stripes, is blue with a thin yellow Roman cross connected to a laying double concave lens shape that extends to the sides of the canton.

The cross suggests a Christian connection, which matches recent mass convertions to Protestantism among Montagnards in Vietnam, possibly linked to ties with immigrant communities in the U.S. The latter might explain the setting of this photo, where the flag in question can be seen hung flat on a wall panel and another, apparently identical in size and design, on an indoor pole (?) at its right, while at its left there’s a U.S. flag also on an indoor pole. (It may be that this flag is of a fully U.S.-based organization, though, with no direct contacts nor actual presence in Vietnam, in spite of its ambitious name.)
António Martins-Tuválkin, 30 March 2016

[1] Flags of the World (FOTW) at Facebook:
[2] Union of Catholic Asian News websites (in Vietnamese):
[3] First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at Charlotte, North Carolina, website:
Tomislav Todorović, 2 May 2018