The “mountain people” of Vietnam lived in relative isolation in the central highlands until the late 1800s, when France colonized Indochina. Then, the Vietnam War (1955–1975) forced major changes in their way of life. Allies to US Army Special Forces units during the war, many Montagnards sought asylum in the US decades later, and, over the years, North Carolina became home to the largest Montagnard population outside their homeland. This lobby-case exhibit spotlights some baskets, tools, textiles, musical instruments, and other objects from their traditional culture.
Artifacts featured in Montagnards, Vietnam’s Central Highlanders were gifted to Mike Little, a US Army veteran who befriended several Montagnard families during his service in the central highlands and maintained strong bonds with them after his return; he has since donated many objects to the museum collection.