South Viet Nam: Trouble in the Hills

South Viet Nam's most formidable fighting men are the aboriginal tribesmen whom the French called montagnards —hill people. Deadly hunters with crossbows and poisoned arrows, the more than 500,000 montagnards live in the vast "high plateau" that extends across one-third of the country. They are darker and tougher than the lowland Vietnamese, who consider the montagnards racially inferior, and scornfully refer to them as moi, or baboons. To protect them from land-grabbing lowlanders, French colonial administrators in effect made the central highlands a tribal reservation. When the French pulled out in...

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