The French who first colonized our territories in 1895-1954 called us "Montagnards", meaning mountain man, because for centuries we were driven from our fertile coastal areas to the mountains of Southeast Asia by the invading Cham and Vietnamese peoples. Our ancestors thus settled in these mountains, the area now called the Central Highlands. But to their credit, the French recognized our rights to these lands where we were born, which our ancestors had occupied for thousands of years. France defined our borders and formalized our right to our own nation in 1946. They called this country "Pays Montagnards du Sud Indochinois", the Montagnard country in southern Indochina, and we had high hopes of continuing our development among the other free nations in this world.

After the French left in 1955, the Vietnamese who invaded our coastal areas and took over the "colonization" of our lands, called us "moi", which means wild or savages. Their desire to exploit our country began with this attempt to dehumanize us, which is the custom of nations declaring war on their neighbors. Through this process, their soldiers may feel motivated to slaughter us as animals, take our land and property, and deprive us of the human rights that many citizens of this world take for granted.

During the Vietnam War, American soldiers often called us "Yards", a simplification of the French term "Montagnard". When we met the American soldiers in our homeland, we discovered in them the same open, honest nature that we had begun to expect from our own people. That is why we trusted and supported them, because they helped us defend our country.

We call ourselves Dega, which all our tribal people who live in the former country of Montagnard in southern Indochina, called P.M.S.I. (Pays Montagnard du Sud Indochinois). The Dega race was the first people to inhabit this region and we are the rightful owners of the land that the world knew as the Central Highlands of Vietnam during the Second Indochina War. We are the indigenous people of the Central Highlands.

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