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The 54th Ethnic Group Documented

Réhahn recently returned from an expedition to meet the final tribe of the 54 officially documented ethnic groups in Vietnam. More than eight years of research have gone into photographing and collecting of stories and traditional costumes of each group as well as many subgroups to complete this goal in the Precious Heritage project.

The Chut, who live in the Quang Binh province of Vietnam, were discovered in 1959 living in a cave near the border of Laos. Despite a mandatory resettlement with the goal of improving the group’s living conditions and literacy, the Chut remain in a restricted area that is difficult to access.
The Chut people have several dialects that were dispersed with the tribe as different subgroups settled throughout the province known for its mountainous jungle and limestone caves.

The subgroup that Réhahn met on August 9th is known as the Ma Lieng tribe; the most isolated group that he has encountered over the course of his research for the Precious Heritage project. Their skirts resembled that of the Bru Van Kieu, another ethnic group living in the same region; however, in contrary to the Bru, they wore purchased t-shirts from Vietnam.

Réhahn was only able to stay briefly with the Chut because of the zone restrictions but he plans on returning to try to meet other subgroups and to learn more about their origins.

The documentation of the Chut mark a major goal in the Precious Heritage project. All 54 groups plus numerous subgroups will now be officially displayed in the Precious Heritage museum. The free museum acts a center of knowledge about the tribes in Vietnam as well as a place for the preservation of their cultural artifacts.

Though this official milestone has been met, Réhahn will continue his research to learn more about the many subgroups and undocumented tribes within the country.