Census 2010: Let's Count All Montagnards (2010)


Team: Andrew Young, H Juel, Dock Rmah, Thomas Tlur Eban, Lap Siu, et al

Title: Census 2010: Let's Count All Montagnards 

Brief:  Funded by a grant from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Community leaders' meeting, community awareness and outreach efforts with the themes, "Let's count all Montagnards" and on Census question 9, "Check 'other Asian', write 'Montagnard'". 

Outcomes:   Close work with pastors and leaders to create accurate spoken and written translations. Creation of translated texts used in instructional videos posted on Youtube with links to printed PDFs.






Why target the census?     The census is a rare opportunity to obtain accurate numbers of the Montagnard population in the Triad region and throughout the US. Although we are in our third decade of the Montagnard-American experience, there seem to have been no responsible parties interested in carrying out accurate population estimates. Without these numbers, credible plans and policies can't be carried out. Long term commitments of the kind that will improve the lives of Montagnards -- projects involving health and education, for examples -- simply can't be made until we have more accurate numbers. 

Montagnard — not Vietnamese or Cambodian     As they entered the country as refugees, Montagnards have been counted as Vietnamese or Cambodian, not as ethnically and linguistically separate. When they fill out the 2010 census, we are encouraging them to check "ASIAN-AMERICAN" and write in "MONTAGNARD" in answer to Question 9.

Breaching the language barrier     American authorities continue to believe, after 23 years, that literature translated into Vietnamese is an effective way of reaching the community, not realizing that at best it is a secondary language partly understood by only some of the population. For some, receiving Vietnamese-based information is culturally unacceptable.  We've seen many funded projects with brochures, booklets, and other material targeted at minorities which consistently fail to include Montagnard languages, even though Greensboro and North Carolina have the largest Montagnard communities outside of Southeast Asia. And American authorities often seem to overlook that many Montagnards do not read their primary spoken languages, creating additional barriers and costs associated with interpreters and translators. Perhaps one reason the Montagnard community has struggled has been because of lack of very basic information about American life, services, schools, health, legal institutions -- in short, all the everyday information we take for granted and which we use to make wise choices for ourselves and families.

For this reason, we have committed to recording speech information as an important part of our census work.

MDA is translating key documents and preparing multimedia programs to help inform parents, children, and families about the importance of being counted.