Brief History of Tai Dam


Tai Dam belongs to the Tai group who lived in Laos, Thailand, Burma, North Vietnam, and the Valley of the Himalayan Mountains and Southern China.

In 1250 BC many of the Tai people had to move to south of what is today the Chinese border because the Mongols under Kublai Khan invaded and destroyed their kingdom known as Nan Chao. The Tai divided themselves into groups. One group went to Laos. Another group followed the Menam River to Thailand. And the Tai Dam followed the Black River to North Vietnam and built their town and cities.

The Tai Dam lived peacefully with their neighbors, the Vietnamese and the Laotians. But in the 1900’s the French colonized Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. In the early 1950’s, the French started to lose their colonies. In North Vietnam under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh, the French were defeated at the famous battle of Dien Bien Phu (a major Tai Dam city called Muong Theng or the City of the God). Many Tai Dam who used to be French soldiers, government employees, and top government officials, along with their families, started to move out of their homeland and became political refugees in 1954.

Many Tai Dam families moved to Laos because of the similarities in language and culture. Others move to South Vietnam.

In the meantime the Americans replaced the French after their pull out from Indochina. America wanted to stop communism from spreading to the South. America sent troops and war materials to South Vietnam. However, in 1973 America signed a peace treaty with the communist government of Ho Chi Minh in Paris. America decided to pull out of Vietnam.

Once again, for the Tai Dam, after building their homes, businesses and their life in Laos for 20 years, they sought refuge in the Refugee camps in Thailand and then resettlement in Iowa, in the United States of America.


The Tai Dam believes in benevolent and malevolent spirits. They believe that there are supernatural forces that decide their lives and destiny. The creator of heaven and earth is the “Then Luong.” On earth the “Phi” who are the henchman of the “Then” control every affair of man’s deeds.

Tai Dam holds man to be a part of nature. Man is superior over nature, but man is happiest when is at one with nature. He does not try to rise above it, and he accepts what life holds for him. However, Tai Dam are very tolerant of other’s beliefs.

The influence of Confucianism can also be felt in the Tai Dam society. The Tai Dam believes in a strong sense of cultural-historical continuity and stability. The perfect individual is to improve himself, his family and to make his country prosperous and the word peaceful. Collective active strategies of resource pooling and general support networks based on tightly knit extended family organizations are well developed in the Tai Dam society.


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