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Contact The battle for Hmong heritage in Vietnam This picture taken on October 26, shows tourists visiting an ancient Hmong family heritage palace in Dong Van district, northern Vietnam's Ha Giang province.
The Hmong ethnic group have been largely excluded from Vietnam's glittering economic growth of the past decade, with more than 60 percent of the country's one million minority population living under the poverty line.
The wooden structure is laden with historic markers: Built in by Bao's warlord grandfather with his opium fortune, the retired civil servant claims local authorities took possession of the property in the northern Ha Giang province from his family and are now refusing to return it.
Both sides agree it is an architectural treasure since the historically nomadic Hmong rarely stayed long enough in one place to build anything lasting. Bao had been living in Hanoi, but on return to the family home, he discovered local Vuong ha my fb5b had taken ownership of the palace and rejected his claim to it because he could not provide deeds.
He branded the request "absurd" and said official documents did not exist when the property was built but his family's connection to it was set out in history books about the local area and even in pictures of it displayed in the museum.
Many Hmong fear the government is simply commandeering their culture to boost tourism dollars. For Bao, his battle for repossession goes beyond the personal. He believes Hmong heritage belongs in the hands of Hmong people, a tightknit minority originally from China who proudly cling to customs wherever they settle, from California to Minnesota, Laos and Thailand.
The ethnic group have long been at odds with the central government -- stemming in part from the CIA recruitment of anti-communist Laotian Hmong during the Vietnam War -- which for decades has imposed a series of resettlement, development and assimilation campaigns that have mostly failed.
Protestantism and the Hmong in Vietnam. Officials have opened a series of 'traditional cultural villages' where visitors can peek into old-school wooden houses or take photos of themselves carrying a bamboo basket, a common vessel for Hmong farmers ferrying flowers or grass from the field.
Local Hmong are encouraged to wear traditional hemp clothing and build traditional houses, and have been asked to shorten funeral and wedding ceremonies, days-long, booze-soaked affairs that are among the most sacred of Hmong rituals.
Nothing can break us," he said. That community spirit has proven powerful. Troops were sent to quell a massive Hmong protest inin which some called for independence. More recently, Hmong in Vietnam have turned to organised religion and embraced Protestantism, which makes the communist government nervous.
Ethnic minorities are not always the beneficiaries of Vietnam's booming tourism sector. In northern Vietnam's visitor-saturated Sapa, locals complain hotel owners from the Kinh majority earn big while ethnic minority women and children hawk Chinese-made fabric and fake silver.
Regaining control of the Hmong palace could be a small step toward recovering their own history -- and benefitting from local tourist spending. For some, the loss of the palace is part of a broader issue.
Bao hopes to push back against that by getting his palace back -- so his Hmong clan can regain their spiritual homeland.Location: 4 Hung Vuong street and My Phuoc street – An Dien – An Tay, New Project.
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