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Montagnards - Vietnam

Last modified: 2014-09-20 by ian macdonald
Keywords: 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 (Vietnam)] 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 Vietnam 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

[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.

Makes you wonder what the meaning of the broken, golden ring of Greensboro flag is?
Chrystian Kretowicz, 6 February 2003

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

[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 Todorović, 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: (Image:
[4] Photos of the later flag of FULRO and a pin with the same pattern:
Tomislav Todorović, 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 later 1960s, together with Degas (Montagnards) and Khmer Mountain Tribes.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 18 July 2002

Erroneous reproduction

[BAJARAKA Movement erroneous reproduction] image by Tomislav Todorović, 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 Todorović, 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 Vietnam: 20,000 in Cambodia. Once part of the mighty Champa Kingdom. Notable for the extraordinary skills in domestication of elephants. During the turmoil in Vietnam, 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 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 Dega/Montegnard were admitted to UNPO in 2007.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 26 May 2008